I don’t know about you, but the last month before I upgrade my phone is painful. By then, my old phone feels outdated and sluggish.
It doesn’t have enough storage, can’t really handle the apps I use daily, and, maybe worst of all, it’s just not exciting anymore. More than once, I’ve thought it would be really convenient if I happened to drop it in a lake or run over it with my car…just so I can go ahead and get a new one NOW.
I’m not the only one.
According to a recent study, people tend to embrace more reckless behavior with their phones when they’re looking for an excuse to buy the latest model.[i]
You won’t even risk putting a small scratch on your new phone. But your old phone? Eh, you’ll toss it across the pool so a friend can take your picture. Why not?
Which makes me think of something else. Sometimes we do the same thing with relationships.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this. You’re dating someone, things have gone from good, to stale, to not-that-great. But you’re not quite ready to break up.
So maybe you pick a fight or two. Maybe you’re not as supportive as you’d be otherwise. Maybe you get a little careless with the relationship itself because you’re ready for an upgrade.
While this behavior makes perfect sense, it’s not the best way to handle a dying relationship. It just makes the worst part of dating last longer.
If your relationship is in that not-so-great place, there’s a better way. First, you have to answer a critical question (that I’m about to show you). Then, based on your answer, you should take one of two actions.
Do you know what a “relationship bomb” is? Even if you’ve never heard that phrase, you’ve probably dealt with a few.
A relationship bomb is a situation where things could easily blow up in your face. Here’s a common relationship bomb: the dreaded state-of-the-relationship talk.
There are times when talking to your man about the future of your romance can be a tricky business. If you approach the topic the wrong way, BOOM!
When a relationship bomb explodes, you’ll almost always end up feeling a sense of disconnection from your partner. Sometimes a bad talk about the future will even bring the relationship to a grinding halt.
That’s no good.
But you can’t just ignore this particular relationship bomb, either. If you need to talk to your guy about where the relationship is headed, you can’t just avoid the conversation.
Ticking bombs that get ignored have a tendency to explode. It’s better to do something proactive.
Fortunately, I’ve uncovered some amazing tips from a literal explosives expert.
Recently, I read about an interview with a Navy EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) professional. [i] Naval EODs defuse bombs for a living. How do they do that without getting blown up in the process?
They follow three simple rules. And the great thing about those rules is they work just as well for relationships as they do in combat.
You’re hanging out with someone you really care about when it happens…
You say the wrong thing.
He goes silent. His jaw tightens. Tension floods the room.
You’re desperately trying to think of a way to take it back when he stands up. “I gotta go. Catch you later.”
He’s gone without a goodbye kiss.
You’re alone, ashamed and angry at yourself. Why did you do that? Just when it was going so well?
It can happen to anyone. Even if you make a point of being the kindest, most thoughtful person on the planet, you can still end up upsetting the man you want to be with.
The words you said meant one thing to you but something completely different to him. Instead of asking you to clarify, he took it the wrong way. His feelings were hurt, you had no idea what you did to cause it, and it’s all a big mess.
This happens in all kinds of relationships, from romantic relationships to professional ones. So, it pays to take a closer look at what we can do when we upset each other. Let’s talk about how to feel close again.
The perfect relationship should be a harmonious dance. He puts his hand around your waist, you gaze into his eyes, and you swirl around the dance floor with sweet music guiding your steps.
A wonderful fantasy, but nowhere close to reality.
The reality of relationships isn’t easy to watch. You move together in step for a short while, then break away. The music comes in snatches, and you’re not always hearing the same rhythm. It’s easier to step back, because moving as one is too much work.
What do you do when you find yourselves on opposite sides of the dance floor? How do you find your lost rhythm and restore the closeness?
The answer is what psychologists call repair attempts.
Neediness has gotten a bad rap.
You shouldn’t need a man. You should be independent and self-sufficient. You should seek a partner to complement you, not complete you.
Those “shoulds” come from everywhere. Culture. Advice columns. Friends.
It’s not surprising that more and more women are afraid to come out and speak their hearts’ truest desires. They want relationships. They don’t feel complete when they go home to an empty apartment. They don’t want more girlfriends; they want that one special best friend who’s at their side for life.
Recently, the Dalai Lama co-authored an article in the New York Times about the importance of being needed. He mentioned a study that found that elderly people who didn’t feel useful were at much greater risk of premature death. “Feeling superfluous,” he wrote, “is a blow to the human spirit.”
Today, men are feeling more superfluous than ever.
Modern superwomen don’t need them. Women can buy a house, skyrocket up the career ladder, and build a killer investment portfolio, all without a man. Women can even have children without men. Who needs men?
Women need men.
Women need men to love and be loved.
Men need women for the same reasons.
When that natural desire is denied or suppressed, romance dies.
In an attempt to prove how little they need one another, men and women often treat relationships as transactions. “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” These exchanges feel hollow and unsatisfying.
Dating becomes a game of pretending you’re kind of interested but only if he’s interested, and if he’s not interested you’re definitely not interested. Who’s going to break first?
I want to give you 3 ways to break that pattern and show a man you want him in your life, without worrying that you’ll be penalized for appearing needy.
You know how it feels when you first start dating someone? Every detail about them is exciting. The process of getting to know them can be spell-binding.
That’s why you’ll stay on the phone for HOURS, even if you’re not really a long-phone-call kind of person. The beginning is just so charged.
And then things slow down. Which is good, even though it’s not nearly as exciting.
But what if you could reclaim that initial excitement? What if you could return to that level of passion, even after you’ve been with someone for a while?
Think about the last time you bought a new car. For a while, every time you slid into the driver’s seat you were elated. Everything was so fresh and different. And who doesn’t love that new car smell?!
But the new car smell faded.
You got used to the controls, the fresh layout, and even the bells and whistles you freaked out over on the test drive. You probably didn’t even realize it was happening, but your new car became just “the car.”
Anything we encounter every day can become dull, simply because we’re used to it. Even romance.
But there’s a way to reboot the excitement, super-charging your relationship all over again. And the solution is probably the opposite of what you’d expect.
If you’re on Facebook (or any other social media site), you’ve probably seen people fight online. Someone lobs an opinion out there like a grenade, and then KA-BLAM!
The ensuing “discussion” is rarely an open exchange of maturely cultivated points of view. But there’s a simple formula for turning conflict into a constructive conversation.
The problem with conflict, online or offline, is this: we think the goal is to win.
And this probably isn’t breaking news to you, but you can’t “win” an argument with someone you care about.
It feels like you can in the moment, but you can’t. That’s because even if you come out on top, you’ll end up disconnected from your opponent.
That doesn’t exactly create a romantic vibe.
Wouldn’t it be better to fight in a way that actually strengthens your relationship? What if you could throw down with your man…and come out the other side of the conflict even closer than you were before?
Fighting CAN be productive. It’s all about how you approach it.
Attorney Sean Jones has three suggestions for making fights fair and beneficial.[i] While his suggestions are specific to online fights, you can also use these tips in your relationship.
If you do, fights with your man will morph into something that makes you stronger as a couple.
Do you ever feel like you have two full-time jobs?
First, you’ve got your 40-hour gig. That’s the job that ensures food and shelter. And then there’s the time you have to invest to keep a good relationship going.
Recently, I was talking to my friend, Julia. She and her boyfriend, Chad, are an active couple. They’ve always got something going on.
A couple of weekends back, they toured a local vineyard, attended a music festival, and ran a 5K together. All in the same weekend!
While that sounds like fun, there’s a potential downside. The minute your relationship starts to feel like a second full-time job, POOF! There goes the romance.
A recent study confirms what Julia already knows.
Researchers from Ohio State University conducted a series of 13 experiments. (Apparently, they’re thorough in Ohio.) Their findings were consistent. Packing your weekends full, even with fun stuff, makes Saturday and Sunday feel like another job.[i]
Of course, the opposite’s no better. Sitting around in your sleep pants eating pizza and binge-watching Netflix may be fun for one weekend, but that gets old fast.
So, how do you strike a balance? How do you make plans…without making plans?
I know this is shocking, but I have a strategy for you. There’s an easy way to ensure that your weekends are fun AND carefree.
You just have to follow two rules.
Try this quick experiment. I’ll explain why in a bit.
Think about the last time your boyfriend did something really irritating. For just a moment, 30 seconds tops, remember every detail you can.
Got a specific annoyance in mind? Good.
Okay, the next part is the important part. How do you feel RIGHT NOW?
The original emotions came back, right? You spent less than a minute thinking about something frustrating, and you felt yourself getting upset all over again.
You’re probably not surprised by that. I’m sure you already know that when you remember something, good or bad, it’s like reliving it. [i] The feelings always come back.
And, boy-oh-boy, are there times when that can wreak havoc. Like in the middle of a fight.
When conflict breaks out, it’s only natural to think of other times something similar happened. But when you do, it makes everything about the current conflict messier.
In part, that’s because you’re piling negative emotions on yourself. Now you’re upset about two things instead of just one. But there’s another downside.
Once you think of ONE other time he’s been a…ahem…bonehead, you’ll likely think of SEVERAL other times.
In the world of psychology, this is called “kitchen sinking.”[ii] That means throwing everything into the current argument you can think of, including all kinds of past pain.
And, yes, guys do it, too.
Kitchen sinking will make any conflict much harder to navigate.
What’s more, a recent study[iii] found that even if you don’t actually mention past irritations during a fight, just thinking about them is as bad as bringing them up!
Luckily, there are two surefire ways to keep the past in the past.
So many women regret the time they wasted in unhealthy relationships.
They can’t believe who they fell for.
They can’t believe how long they stuck with dead-end relationships.
But I have one friend who never expresses those kinds of regrets.
Jennifer has always been focused. She knew what she wanted to do back in high school. She’s built the life of her dreams brick by brick. Sometimes she’s been single, sometimes she’s been in relationships, but she’s always been exactly where she needed to be.
Jennifer has a motto that I’d like to share with you.
It’s a unique way of filtering bad relationships from good ones.
Jennifer tells me it hasn’t let her down yet. I’ve even found myself using it in everyday life. It’s one simple question:
“Feel good or future good?”
Will this choice bring me pleasure in the moment, or will it bring me the future I want?
These days, there’s a lot of hype around doing what makes you feel good.
Splurge on that cashmere sweater—you deserve it. Order that rich dessert—you deserve it. Relax instead of doing chores—you deserve it.
With indulgences everywhere you look, you can feel as if you’re depriving yourself by being disciplined. Budgeting, eating healthfully, and working hard are for suckers. Live a little! You only live once.
As attractive as that sounds, feeling good today can lead to feeling really badly tomorrow. Or even an hour later—for some reason my last Thanksgiving feast comes to mind.
That’s where Jennifer’s motto comes in.
(It even helps you spot the man of your dreams. More on that later.)
When you’re deciding what to do, ask yourself: Feel good or future good?
Is this going to give me pleasure in the moment, or is this a step on the way to the amazing future I’ve always dreamed of?
For example, a friend has invited you to a party. You want to stay home in your pajamas and watch Netflix. Feel good or future good?
Staying home might feel good, but getting out and meeting people helps advance your goal of finding someone special.
Here’s another example. You’ve met a couple of different men online. Bachelor #1 is highly attractive, but your gut is telling you he’s a player. Bachelor #2 is soft-spoken and earnest, but he just doesn’t have the same charisma. Who do you decide to see again? Feel good or future good?
What do you make of the following fun facts?[i]
They feel a bit fishy, don’t they? And yet, every one of those statements is 100% true.
You could live the rest of your life without eating or drinking. You just wouldn’t live long. And most people have two legs, but some people have fewer. So the average is lower than two. Finally, Glenn Close has been nominated for an Academy Award numerous times. But she hasn’t won any.
Welcome to the subtle art of being deceptive and truthful at the same time. It’s called “paltering,” and it’s alarmingly common.
Paltering is easier to stomach than lying. You can mislead with a clean conscience, or so the thinking goes. Plus, we tell ourselves others won’t be offended by paltering. I mean, you are speaking the literal truth, right?
Well, I have some bad news about that. A recent study found that people react just as negatively to paltering as they do to lying.[ii]
In other words, deception, even if it’s technically the truth, hurts trust. If you want a healthy, fulfilling relationship, honesty isn’t just the best policy. It’s the only policy.
But what do you do when being honest means telling him something he may not want to hear? Or something you simply don’t want to share?
The following strategy will help you be as honest as a cherry-tree-chopping George Washington while minimizing any negative impact on your relationship.
Kathy’s life was like something out of a reality TV program.
Her friends loved her. Life was never boring with Kathy around. Drama followed her wherever she went.
But there was one area of her life Kathy wished was less dramatic:
She’d never had a relationship that lasted more than a few months. She seemed to attract the worst kind of guys: the ones that made her believe she’d found Mr. Dreamy … only to reveal themselves as a toad in prince’s clothing.
Was it just bad luck?
Or was there something Kathy could do to attract the long-lasting, stable relationship she wanted?
I’ve met many women like Kathy, and my advice is always the same:
Leave the drama at the door.
Most of us—men and women alike—make a deadly mistake in our relationships. We assume that our partner thinks the same way we do.
But the way men see the world is subtly different to how women see the world. Successful relationships depend on understanding those differences.
One way in which you and your man may be less alike than you think is in how you view drama.
Drama is what keeps you riveted to your favorite television program. The more the plot twists and turns, the more you’re glued to the screen. Romantic relationships provide a rich source of drama. A couple that fights, breaks up, and makes up is more exciting than an unfailingly happy couple.
But drama on TV is one thing. Drama in real life is something quite different.
A life filled with unnecessary drama is the last thing most men want. Life should be fun, easy, and pleasurable. Drama is too much work.
In a man’s ideal world, his relationship is a drama-free zone. He may have to deal with drama all day at work, but he can choose to avoid drama in his personal life. He can choose to be with a woman who relaxes and recharges him, rather than drains him.
Let me show you three ways to impress your man with the warmth and stability you can bring into his life, while leaving the drama out in the cold.
How to Get Over Your Ex Faster (and Move on to the Right Guy)
Moving on after you break up with someone isn’t rocket science. Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you: it takes time.
But this can be frustrating. Especially if you want to get back out there and find someone.
So, I’ve got some good news for you. There are things you can do to get over your ex faster if you can’t stop obsessing about him.
The key is to look at “problem” post-break-up behaviors in a new light. Here are the kind of behaviors I’m talking about:
To one degree or another, we’ve all been there. It’s not a new problem. It’s not a unique problem.
In fact, some experts say breakup obsessions look like a temporary version of a specific psychological disorder…called obsessive compulsive disorder.
So if you want to get over your ex faster, you can use a standard self-help technique for OCD.
I will dive into that momentarily. But before going further, I want to take a second to talk about what not to do.
Many people are tempted to avoid triggers. Some are even advised to do this.
Don’t go to that restaurant you loved. Hide your phone. Stay off your computer.
But I disagree with this. Because it’s unrealistic. And because avoidance never works when it’s a mental thing.
Your painful thoughts or memories will return. And avoidance intensifies your fear of facing them.
What I want you to do instead is use that self-help technique I promised to share: schedule your obsession.
It’s a way to take back control of your mind.
How do you feel about dating?
Depending on when you’re asked that question, your answer might change dramatically. That’s because dating is a mix of wildly different experiences.
Sometimes it’s fun, like a first kiss. Sometimes it’s intense, like the first real fight. Sometimes it’s lighthearted and carefree. And sometimes it’s nerve racking and exhausting.
Dating is all of those things and more because dating is an EMOTIONAL experience.
Which is good! One of the things that makes romance so fulfilling is the impact it has on our emotions. But there’s a downside.
When emotions run high, it’s much harder to make smart choices. Just think about the last time you were really angry. Were you at the top of your game, 100% rational?
Nope, probably not. That’s okay. Me, neither.
Any emotion, from anger to exhilaration, can muddy the waters. When that happens, a lot of people, both men and women, find themselves making poor decisions.
But there’s a way to surf the emotional wave AND make good choices. It’s a simple mind hack that’s been proven to have several positive effects on decision making.[i]
All you have to do is create what’s known as “psychological distance.” Psychological distance means creating distance from yourself within your mind.
There are a couple of easy ways to do that. You can imagine yourself as a completely different person. For example, instead of an American professional woman, you could imagine that you’re a sheep herder in another part of the world.
Another way is to imagine yourself far off in the future. Like, decades from now.
Either technique will give you some mental breathing room and allow you to see your present life and relationship very differently. As a result, you’ll have a clearer picture of your options.
Below are three times you can use this simple-yet-powerful strategy.
Can you ever really know how other people see you?
It would be great if you could.
Then you could see exactly what he sees when he looks at you.
You could see why he loves you, or why he turned away.
You could see whether that mole on your cheek is sexy or distracting.
You could see what you really look like in that dress your friend made you buy…
And whether those blond highlights really cover up the gray in your hair like your hairdresser claims.
You’d never have to guess what people think of you ever again.
And you’d regret it forevermore.
There’s a very good reason we don’t know what other people really think of us. It comes down to what’s known as the self-enhancement bias.
In short, we all tend to think we’re better than average.
Even really smart people, like college professors, fall for it. 94% of college professors think their work is above average.
No one wants to be just average, even if they’re in really good company.
You’d think that this illusion of being better than other people would cause problems for us. What if you applied for a job on the basis that you were better than average at what you did, but your on-the-job performance showed otherwise?
It turns out that it’s not much of a problem. Here’s why it can actually be a good thing.
Many people apply for positions they’re not quite qualified for, only to learn on the job and rise to the occasion. Thinking of yourself as better than you are, can give you the confidence to strive higher.
Novices who think they have some innate talent work harder to master a skill. Given that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master anything, beginners need that motivation to keep at it—even if it’s a false belief.
So how can you use the self-enhancement bias to do better at dating?
Obsessing is a natural part of being human.
It’s literally built into your genetic code. You see, we all have a “loop” in our brain that regulates obsession.
Here’s how it works. An obsessions is like a drug. Thinking about an obsession releases dopamine. And that gives you pleasure. Which makes you want to keep thinking about it.
Imagine a volleyball going back and forth over the net. Or a tennis ball. It’s like that. Pleasure, fascination. Pleasure, fascination. It’s the obsession loop.
Now, there are all kinds of obsessions. And everyone gets obsessed from time to time. And that’s a good thing. Because obsessions are responsible for many of mankind’s technological breakthroughs, masterpieces of art, and brilliant musical scores.
Take any historic figure who accomplished something remarkable. You can pretty much guarantee their secret obsession played a part in their success. Because obsessions allow us to work long and hard without feeling drained by the effort.
That’s what it takes to move things forward. Focus. Drive. Obsession. Continue reading
We talk about being “obsessed” a lot. Like when we’re obsessed with a certain TV show. When we can’t get enough of a favorite food. When we can’t put down a book. When we obsess over a desired goal.
Obsession has become a catch-all term for things that we really, really like.
But it’s really something more powerful than that. It’s the driving force that shapes our motivation. It can even shape your personal life story, like a narrative that’s built around a main goal or purpose in life.
Merriam-Webster defines obsession in a few ways:
And here are two definitions from Dictionary.com:
So, an obsession is a psychological condition. It’s more than something we want. It’s a state of being. Continue reading
You’re driving a bit over the speed limit. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing you’d ever think about.
But this time a cop pulls you over. He gives you a speeding ticket.
It’s surprising. Frustrating. Scary. And for the whole next week, you can’t stop thinking about it.
You wonder what you could have done differently. Said differently. If you can fight the ticket. What it’s going to do to your insurance. And your driving actually gets worse. Because you keep watching for cops in your rearview mirror.
You can’t stop obsessing. But why? Continue reading
Do you want to be more attractive?
Silly question, I know. That’s like asking if you want a million dollars. Or if you want frizz-free hair, no matter the weather.
Yes, yes, and HOLY COW, YES.
Well, you’re in luck. I can tell you how to instantly be more attractive right now.
Research confirms that folks who are altruistic generally have more success in the dating arena. (Selfless people even have more sex, according to the study.)[i] Researchers concluded this is because selflessness makes you more attractive.
But there’s a problem. “Be selfless” is lame advice.
It’s lame because it sounds like something your kindergarten teacher would say when you reach past the kid in front of you for a juice box. Plus, it’s just way too vague to mean anything.
Seriously, what does it look like to “be selfless”? How do you pull that off?
I’m glad you asked. It just so happens that I have four suggestions.[ii] These are little things you can weave into your everyday routine with minimal effort.
Start practicing these selfless behaviors today to instantly become more attractive to every guy you meet.
Have you ever wondered why stores use prices like $99.99? Why not just sell the same pair of shoes for an even $100?
Ah, but you already know the answer. It’s a simple psychological trick. If the shoes cost less than $100, even by just a penny, they fall into a lower price bracket in your mind.
But there’s something really bizarre about this trick.
Almost everyone can explain why stores price things the way they do. So why do businesses keep using this trick if everyone knows about it?!
Because it still works.
As business consultant Ash Ambirge explains, “…it’s not because they’re trying to fool you. It’s because we need to fool ourselves.”[i]
And sadly, that makes sense, too. It makes sense because we trick ourselves into making poor decisions all the time.
Here’s how it works. Most of the time, we know what we really want to do. So instead of seriously analyzing the pros and cons, we trick ourselves.
We focus on half-truths. We call our unrealistic expectations “optimism.” We intentionally ignore warning signs, claiming we’re just being spontaneous.
And this doesn’t just happen when you’re shopping. It happens when you make profound relationship decisions, too.
That’s why your brilliant, strong friend ended up dating that complete jerk who took advantage of her awesomeness for months before she dumped him. She tricked herself into making that bad decision.
Because she wanted to.
If you don’t want to make the same kinds of mistakes in your own relationships, you have to learn how to stop falling for your own tricks.
Use the simple checklist below to become untrickable…even to yourself.
If you spend even a little time reading up on what makes a relationship work, you’ll come across a lot of advice on improving communication. Happy couples have good communication, right?
Well, yes. But are they happy because they have good communication, or do they have good communication because they’re happy?
A recent study from the University of Georgia[i] confirms that good communication and romantic success DO go hand in hand. But good communication seems to be a side effect of relationship success, not the reason for it.
Think of it like this.
If you’re fit and healthy, you likely exercise and eat right. While being in shape makes it easier to choose to hit the gym, you don’t work out because you’re already in shape. Rather, being in shape is one of the results of regular exercise and a smart diet.
Good communication happens when there’s already a special foundation built on something deeper than just conversation. To go beyond mere communication, you need a unique and powerful kind of intimacy.
Psychologist Douglas LaBier calls this level of romantic intimacy “Radical Transparency.”[ii] Radical transparency happens when two people are able to really be themselves around each other, totally open and honest at all times.
If you want to take your relationship to that level, you’ll need to do two things.
Have you ever tried to get excited about something you didn’t really want to do?
A friend of mine is a runner. Recently I admitted I simply don’t like running enough to tackle the long distances she does, and what she said floored me.
She said she doesn’t like to run, either. But she knows it’s good for her, so she finds ways to make it fun.
For her, that means listening to music, staying connected with other runners, and going absolutely nuts buying running apparel.
The folks at Volkswagen think along the same lines. They launched a program called “Fun Theory.” Fun Theory is the idea that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.”[i]
In one of their experiments, they painted a set of stairs to look like piano keys. The stairs were directly adjacent to an escalator, but they wanted to see if more people would opt for the stairs if the stairs looked more fun.
Guess what? It worked![ii]
Below you’ll find three times when you can use the same strategy in your relationship. You can help your relationship thrive if you can turn the work of maintaining your relationship easier just by injecting some fun.
Karen thought it would bond them as a couple. A weekend workshop devoted to developing greater intimacy? Bring it on!
But on the afternoon of the second day, her world turned upside-down.
The topic was how to give feedback instead of criticism. The facilitator asked each couple to turn to one another and state the 3 things they most liked about the other person as well as the 3 things they most disliked.
Her heart was pounding as she told her boyfriend she’d go first. “What I like most about you is that you’re thoughtful, handsome, and loving.” She paused, trying to think of some gentle feedback that wouldn’t hurt his feelings.
“I wish you’d clean up after yourself more. I wish you’d be available more, rather than working so late. I also wish things were more romantic, like they used to be.”
He smiled and nodded warmly. She felt a rush of relief. This wouldn’t be so bad. “Okay, your turn,” she said.
“The three things I like most about you are that you’re beautiful, you’re warm and caring, and you make my life better.”
Karen’s heart soared. She grasped his hand tightly. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“The three things I like least about you,” he continued, “are that you’re always getting after me for things in a way that doesn’t feel respectful. You have really high standards, which are great, but it makes our life stressful in a way it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes I don’t think you really see what you’re doing. You think you’re being positive when you’re actually bringing everyone down.”
How could he say that? After that moment they’d just had?
Even worse, he was smiling, as if what he said had been kind rather than completely devastating.
Karen jerked back her hand. She scooted her chair away from him. Through the white noise ringing in her ears, she could hear him ask, “Honey, are you okay?”
But she wasn’t.
And she wasn’t sure if she’d ever be again.
In all relationships, there are some things better left unsaid.
Like what you really think of his crude best friend, or his parents’ Christmas gifts.
But giving and receiving feedback is essential to healthy relationships.
So I’m going to suggest one simple phrase for responding well.
“Love” means something different to everyone.
Discovering how your guy wants to be loved can help you connect. It’s like finding the key to his heart. You can tap into a deeper part of who he is.
Shower him with “his” type of love, and he’ll be hooked. I’m going to show you three ways to figure out the type of love your guy responds to best.
But first let’s quickly review the concept of “love languages.” It’s the idea that there are five basic ways to express your love.
Kind words. Physical affection. Acts of service. Gifts. Quality time.
Each of us has a preference for one of these “languages.”
If kind words really matter, you’ll feel closer to someone who thanks you. Who tells you they appreciate you. Who flatters you.
People who respond to acts of service might melt if you wash their car for them. Or bring them chicken noodle soup when they’re sick.
If physical affection is your thing, hugs can make you feel more connected. Or holding hands. Or a back rub.
Things show gift-lovers that you care. Birthday presents. Cards. Flowers. Takeout from their favorite restaurant.
Finally, those moved by quality time just want you around them. And can feel slighted when you don’t make time.
Basically, when someone “speaks our love language,” we feel loved. When they don’t, we’re left cold.
But here’s the problem with love languages. We tend to express love in the way we want it expressed to us.
That’s fine if you and the guy you like speak the same love language. Not so great if you don’t.
Let’s look at an example:
GWEN: I really wanted to thank you for coming over to jump my car yesterday.
BARRY: Sure thing. It was no big deal.
GWEN: But it was. You went out of your way for me. That means a lot.
BARRY: Well, I’m glad I could help.
GWEN: Most people wouldn’t have. You’re a really great guy, Barry.
BARRY: (joking) Stop, you’re embarrassing me.
GWEN: I mean it. I feel really lucky to have a friend like you.
BARRY: Okay, fine, I’ll let you buy me lunch today.
GWEN: Oh. Actually, I can’t today. Raincheck?
BARRY: (trying not to look disappointed) Sure, sure.
GWEN: You really are my hero though.
BARRY: Uh-huh. I should probably go.
GWEN: Oh, okay…
Gwen tries to show Barry his help mattered. By telling him. She’s effusive. Her words are incredibly nice. Glowing even.
It’s likely compliments like these would move her, but he mostly shrugs them off. For Barry, words clearly just don’t do it.
Based on his lunch request, Barry’s “language” is likely either gifts or quality time. But Gwen doesn’t see the importance of those things. So it’s a missed connection.
Speaking different love languages doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker though. You just have to learn his language. And then train yourself to express love in the way he needs.
There are three simple tricks you can use to discover his love language.
You probably have at least one female friend who’s a bit too quick to forgive.
When her guy says something that hurts her feelings, she laughs it off. If he’s consistently late for dates, she just shrugs and says he’s got a busy schedule. She might even let big stuff go without a fuss. Stuff like flirting with other women right in front of her.
I suspect you have at least one friend like this because everyone does. We all know someone who holds in their feelings, rarely expressing anger even when it’s called for.
If you’re being nice, you’d say your friend is “long-suffering.” But really, she just lets the guy in her life get away with things he shouldn’t be getting away with.
It might be tempting to think she just has bad taste in men. But that’s not necessarily the case.
According to a recent study[i], people are more likely to repeat negative behaviors if forgiveness is offered immediately. The thinking goes like this: “If you’re not mad, it must not be a big deal, so I’ll keep doing it.”[ii]
In other words, we teach the people around us how we expect to be treated. And when you forgive others too quickly, you teach them it’s okay to treat you poorly.
If you don’t want to make the same mistake your long-suffering friend makes, it’s important to hold out for an apology when your guy screws up.
Here’s a three-step plan for doing that without looking like you’re just holding a grudge.
Have you had the uncomfortable experience of watching a social media train wreck?
I’ve seen more than a few, myself. In fact, just recently I came across an entire article about one.[i]
The girl was cheated on, so she told everyone what a two-timing jerk her guy was – on Facebook. She even tagged him in the post!
He replied, of course, and before long they were in an all-out post-breakup war right there on the internet. Classy, right?
Social media, like Facebook, has become a big part of our lives. It’s a shared conversation that never stops. For the most part, it’s a good thing that helps people stay connected.
And your relationship status is baked right into social media. It’s part of your default profile information. Which begs the question, how do you handle your relationship status, good or bad, online?
Answer: In ways that enrich, enable, and encourage your relationships.
Note that I said relationships, plural. Everyone in your social circle gets to see how you deal with romantic ups and downs online. Anyone who sees you acting like the star of your own reality TV show will think twice the next time they talk to you.
Whether you’re debating about changing your status from “single” to “in a relationship,” or wanting to let everyone know about a breakup, what you share on social media matters.
The following guidelines will help you avoid common social media pitfalls that tear relationships apart.
Do you want a relationship that’s off-the-charts satisfying? Then you need to make sure you and your guy get enough playtime.
Take a moment to think about your average day.
Imagine it from the beginning to the end, like a video playing on fast-forward in your mind. You’ve got work, obligations to friends and family, and possibly more like working out or volunteering.
It’s a lot.
So here’s the question. When you get to spend time with your guy in the midst of all that chaos, do you want to feel like you’re just ticking off one more item on your to-do list? Or do you want to PLAY?!
Play happens when you do what you want to do, free of a sense of obligation.[i] It’s the fun, engaging, passionate part of life. It never feels like a chore because it never is.
When you and your guy play together, that’s when your relationship comes alive. Playtime is the time to build connection, get to know each other better, and to strengthen the bond that makes you a couple. It’s the heart of your romance.
It’s fairly easy to see how to make date nights playful. That’s as easy as doing something you both enjoy. But the real secret to unlocking the power of play is making even serious discussions playful.
How do you do THAT?
I have two suggestions. Used together, these two tips will turn even the most pragmatic conversation into an opportunity to make your relationship stronger.
You’re not sure what to do.
You’ve had a fight, and you haven’t spoken since. Which isn’t great, considering that you live together. You’ve managed to share the same space without making eye contact once.
As you’re walking past the living room, he says, “Come and take a look at this.” He’s sitting on the sofa, focused on the iPad on his lap. You walk over.
It’s something banal, some picture of something vaguely interesting. You make the expected noises. “Uh huh, cool.” You’re not sure why he called you all the way over here to look at it.
Then he looks up at you. You make eye contact for the first time in days. You smile spontaneously.
And you get it:
This was his way of making it okay again.
There’s actually a technical term for what just happened.
It was a bid for connection.
Bids for connection happen when one partner tries to engage the other, hoping for some positive attention.
They’re rarely as obvious as, “Hey, do you have a minute to talk?” or, “I’m feeling disconnected from you, and I want to feel connected again.”
Instead, most bids for connection happen under the radar.
You sigh, hoping he’ll ask you what’s wrong. He shows you a funny clip on his phone, hoping you’ll laugh. You start talking about this crazy thing that happened to you today, hoping he’ll listen with interest. He pulls you next to him on the sofa, hoping it will lead to snuggling.
Bids for connection always have an ulterior motive:
You’re seeking to feel connected.
Which should always be a good thing, right?
Try out this scenario.
You’re cooking dinner. Every burner on the stove is full of pans bubbling and hissing. You’re chopping salad, toasting bread, stirring the sauce, trying to get everything done at the same time.
“Hey, honey, come and look at this,” he says.
Do you think: “That’s a bid for connection, so I should respond positively”?
Or do you think: “What a jerk! Does he think dinner cooks itself?”?
What feels like an awkward silence to you might not feel that way to a guy.
Let me show you why.
Let’s look at a sample conversation where two people are trying to make a connection.
MAN: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a neon pink-orange drink before.
WOMAN: I know, right? It’s like radioactive Kool-Aid. But it tastes amazing!
MAN: (laughs) It is like radioactive Kool-Aid. I feel like the Kool-Aid Man is gonna burst through the wall any second.
WOMAN: (laughs) Right? Me, too.
Both laugh. Pause.
WOMAN: I’m Julie.
MAN: Oh, right. Ken.
WOMAN: Nice to meet you.
WOMAN: And what are you drinking?
MAN: Water, unfortunately. My friends picked me as the designated driver.
WOMAN: Good for you. Better for them, but good for you.
Man laughs. Pause.
WOMAN: So what do you like to do when you’re not asking women about their drinks?
WOMAN: You know, for fun. Or work. Or, just, whatever.
WOMAN: Like, for example, I’m failing horribly at learning to play the guitar. How do people do it? They make it look easy, but let me tell you it is not…
This isn’t an awful conversation. There’s some banter. Maybe some chemistry.
Ken has no problem getting Julie talking. And she always seems quick with a reply.
But Julie does have some trouble there at the end.
Those pauses! Were they bothering you? Because they’re clearly killing Julie.
Whenever there’s dead air, she has to jump in. By the end, it seems like she’s taken it upon herself to keep the conversation going.
That’s a good thing, right? Not necessarily.
If you follow my blog, you already know you want to get the other person talking. This is true even if there are lulls in the conversation.
I’m going to explain why those lulls can actually be a good thing. But first, let’s understand why they happen.
There are the obvious reasons, of course. People don’t know what to say. They get intimidated. They get stuck in their head.
But science says there’s another reason for lulls when men and women talk: On average, women’s brains work faster than men’s.
It has to do with how our brains are set up. Which parts we use in conversation.
It’s not important to know the exact details. But you should know that these differences mean men can be slower to respond in conversations.
So those seemingly interminable pauses? It might just take his brain longer to think of a response.
Which brings me to why lulls can be good.
Have you ever experienced this?
You’re with your guy in a public place. A restaurant or the mall. A woman walks by. Before you even glance at his reaction, you’re seething. She’s gorgeous. A part of you is immediately jealous.
Then you see your guy’s face. His eyes are locked on her. Now you feel even worse.
That seed of jealousy sprouts to a full-grown emotion in a heartbeat.
Jealousy doesn’t usually work this way. It’s usually a suspicion or slight uneasiness that takes weeks or months before it gets labeled as a problem situation.
But “instant jealousy” is a gut feeling. It’s something that springs up out of nowhere when you don’t expect it.
Feeling instant jealousy doesn’t mean you’re a jealous person. It just means you’re normal. Anyone can empathize.
The problem with instant jealousy isn’t that it happens. It’s that it catches you off guard. So, you might react before you think.
For some women, that means calling their guy out. “I saw you looking at her!” Others might turn passive aggressive, refusing to say why they’re upset but making it clear they aren’t happy. Still others will pout, feeling defeated by the fear that their man will chase after some random eye candy.
But here’s the thing about instant jealousy. Studies tell us it rarely leads to accurate conclusions.[i]
When you get a spontaneous gut feeling that your guy might be into someone else, the last thing you should do is trust that gut feeling. It’s almost never right.
But because those feelings are strong, you need a strong strategy to fight back. Here are three things you can do to stop instant jealousy in its tracks.
Two people are on a first date. They barely know one another. They’re just feeling each other out.
Let’s listen in:
MAN: Yeah, I guess I like to keep active. My buddies do this flag football thing every weekend.
WOMAN: That means no tackling, right?
MAN: (laughs) Yeah, that’s exactly right. How about you? What kind of stuff do you do?
WOMAN: (shrugs) You know, I try to get to the gym. Try being the key term in that sentence.
MAN: I hear you.
WOMAN: I do yoga. There’s a mountain trail I run on when I can.
MAN: I love mountain trails. I ride my bike around Fryman Canyon every weekend if I can. Do you ride?
WOMAN: (pause) Not much. Did you see that new DiCaprio movie?
Why did she pause? Why did she change the subject?
Because she doesn’t know how to ride a bike. But she didn’t want to tell him.
She felt embarrassed. She was worried he’d think less of her.
We do things like this all the time. We feel awkward or embarrassed, so we skirt the question.
And we think we’re protecting ourselves. We think we’re making it more likely that others will like us.
But according to research studies, the opposite is true.
When people sense that you are withholding information or avoiding a question, they like you less. Which is probably pretty obvious. If you think someone isn’t being upfront with you, it’s hard to trust them
But the studies reveal even more…
People who did disclose sensitive information were liked more than those who did not disclose something. Even if the information was negative or unflattering!
In the study, this was even true for some pretty bad disclosures.
For example, participants answered a question about whether or not they had ever lied to a partner about having an STD.
Some refused to answer. Others admitted to lying.
People were significantly more willing to date participants who admitted to lying to previous partners. Crazy, right?
Here’s how to use this information to build your irresistible qualities…
It seemed so promising.
You were thrilled when this guy you met online asked for your mobile number. Although you’re careful about giving out your number (after some bad experiences with unwanted pictures), this guy seemed genuine. His texts were funny, interesting, and kept you thinking about him.
After a few weeks, though, fascination was turning to irritation. The constant texting was getting old. Why wasn’t he asking you out?
Maybe because he’s just fishing.
As a means of communication, texting was made for men. They can get to the point without wasting time on small talk. They don’t have to reply unless they feel like it. They can communicate with lots of people with very little time investment.
Even better, text messages serve as bait. No need to meet in person when he can send the same witty one-liner to every girl in his phonebook.
He can wait to see who bites before sending a follow-up. Texts are an efficient, effective way to connect without risking rejection.
Which is why you should be wary of the guy who’d rather text you than see you:
He may be more interested in the pursuit than dealing with a flesh-and-blood female.
Technology has been a blessing and a curse to dating. You’re no longer limited to bumping into someone at the grocery store or wasting an evening at the local dive. You can theoretically meet men across the world and strike up a relationship solely through the use of technology.
But it comes at a cost.
Technology is addictive in a way that hanging out with someone isn’t. Internet use triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, the same chemical behind more well-known addictions like alcohol or drug addiction. Dopamine spurs “seeking behavior.” Addicts are convinced that everything they could ever want is online, if they just browse long enough.
Meet in person, however, and a different neurochemical profile dominates.
As you fall for each other over a candlelit meal, you enjoy the happy feelings brought on by dopamine in conjunction with oxytocin and serotonin. As you hold hands or hug goodbye, a burst of oxytocin gives you a feeling of connection and contentment. A bond exists between you now. You’re more than just a name on his phone.
So, what about that man who keeps texting you or messaging you, without asking to meet?
How much do you really know about the guy sitting across the table from you?
Maybe this is your first date, and all you really know is that you like his smile and the way his dark hair curls above his neck.
Or maybe this is your zillionth dinner date, although “date” isn’t the right word when you’ve been together for years.
If you’re on your first date, you’ve got an advantage:
You know that the man across from you is a mystery.
What you don’t know makes you a better conversationalist. You ask questions, listen carefully, and respond with warmth and enthusiasm.
Once you’ve been together for a while, though, there’s nothing left to ask him. You already know everything there is to know about him. You know his personal habits, his opinions on every major sports team, and what he thinks of his family. What more is there to know?
Quite a lot, it turns out.
Not only does the quality of conversation determine whether or not a first date turns into a second date, the quality of conversation also determines your long-term health as a couple.
Quality conversations can be hard to fit into everyday life. The longer you’re together, the more your conversations as a couple center on practical matters, like what to watch on TV or who’s going to pick up the kids from sports practice.
You don’t stay up late to talk about life anymore. You’d rather get your beauty sleep.
Taken to the extreme, you could end up like one of the couples in a 2010 British study. It found that couples who’d been married 50 years or more spoke to each other for only 3 minutes, on average, during a 60-minute dinner—and those 3 minutes were mostly practical communication like, “Could you pass me the ketchup?
On one hand, it feels great when your partner knows you so well that you don’t have to say what’s on your mind; he can read you like a book.
On the other hand, it’s incredibly flattering to be with someone who hangs on your every word and wants to know everything about you.
You can miss that feeling once you’re in a long-term relationship.
You’re evolving and growing as a person, but to him you’re still the same person you were back when you first got together. He doesn’t notice how you’ve changed. He looks at you, but he doesn’t see you anymore. He listens to you, but he doesn’t hear you.
So how do you get back that first-date feeling of mystery and discovery?
You start asking questions.
The key to quality conversations, whether you’re on your first date or your zillionth date, is asking great questions.
Cinderella goes to her mother’s bedside…
“Ella, my darling. I want to tell you a secret, a great secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer.
You must always remember this: Have courage and be kind.
You have more kindness in your little finger than most people possess in their whole body. And it has power, more than you know. And magic.”
~ Disney’s Cinderella (2015)
When you think about your dream relationship, is it something you hope for or something you think the universe owes you?
Any time I hear the word “fairytale,” I immediately think of Disney animated movies. They’re the fairytales of our time.
I wonder how Disney princesses would answer the above question. Most likely, they’d say they hoped for love, but didn’t feel like it was guaranteed in any way.
Cinderella cooked and cleaned for her step mother and step sisters, never really expecting prince charming. Snow White seemed content to live with the dwarves, even though she was a princess. Ariel traded away her voice for a shot at love. Belle was happy with her books. Even Elsa retreated to her ice castle, resigned to a life of complete isolation.
Not one of them seemed to feel like life owed them a happy ending.
And yet, a recent study indicates that more and more of us (here in the real world) feel a deep-seated sense of entitlement.[i]
Oh, wait. It gets worse.
That same study led researchers to conclude that those of us who feel entitled are nearly guaranteed to be disappointed.
Life rarely works out the way you expect it to. Disappointment leads to anger and other negative emotions. To cope with disappointment, people tell themselves they’re special. But that just renews a sense of entitlement.
What a vicious circle!
When it comes to dating, this one thing can completely destroy legitimate opportunities to be happy. Entitlement holds us back. It feeds on itself.
Even worse, entitlement leads, not to happily ever after, but to chronic disappointment.
If you’re ready to break that circle, you have to divorce yourself from a sense of romantic entitlement. Here’s how you do it.
Excuses rarely make anyone feel better.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration of hearing an excuse when you try to point out a problem to your boyfriend.
Sure, there are times when it’s perfectly valid to offer an excuse. I mean, come on…sometimes the traffic really was horrible. Or you legitimately didn’t have time to call.
But most of the time we make excuses to protect our egos. Rather than admitting we made a mistake, we justify poor choices.
That strategy just doesn’t work well in relationships. Because a pattern of excuses will drive a wedge between you and your partner faster than the Kardashians can spin family drama into a new reality show.
Excuses erode trust. Just like you, your guy can tell when he’s not getting the full story.
So, before you give your guy an excuse, ask yourself the following two questions.
Let me show you why these two questions will send your relationship in the right direction.
The world has blown up. There are only two people left on Earth:
You … and Mr. Dreamy.
There’s no one else left. No rivals. No one thinner, prettier, or sexier. No one who’ll steal him from you.
Do you fall in love and live happily ever after?
It’s tempting to think that’s what it would take.
To get the attention of a Mr. Dreamy, you’d have to rid the world of other women. Other women are the problem. They’re the reason men look the other way.
Sounds a bit extreme!
But have you ever had thoughts like:
If only she wasn’t here, he’d pay attention to me.
She stole him from me, even though she knew I was interested in him.
I can’t compete with her. I’m no swimsuit model.
Jealousy makes a lot of sense when you operate from a “scarcity” mindset.
Scarcity is the idea that the dating pool is limited and there aren’t enough guys to go around. You have to fight to get in front, and then you have to fight to keep your man.
You’ll find a lot of support for that belief. It’s a popular one.
But if you stretch that belief to its logical conclusion—that the best way to snag a man is to get rid of the competition—you realize there’s a problem with scarcity thinking.
If the world blew up tomorrow, leaving only you and your ideal man, would you be happy?
Maybe you would. Maybe love is all you need. Maybe you don’t need other people.
But maybe Mr. Dreamy isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. You’d be left until the end of time with no one but a man for company. Might get boring. You might end up wishing for another woman to talk to.
To be happy, we need more than love. We need our social network around us.
Without friends, who would we vent about our other half to? You can love someone to the moon and back, but still need your friends for heart-to-hearts.
As long as there are other women in the world, there’s a chance your dream man might shift his attention away from you. And that’s a chance worth taking.
Instead of eliminating the competition, a better strategy is to look at what you do when you start feeling jealous.
How do you make a lasting impression when you only get 60 seconds?
That’s all the time it takes for people to start judging you. It’s an insanely short window.
Take Jessica as an example. She’s single and interested in meeting someone new. So she goes out, mingles, and tries to stay socially plugged in.
Recently, she was at a happy hour with some friends. They got into a conversation with some guys at the next table. They talked for a bit, and then the men moved on.
When you’re single, opportunities to meet someone can pop up and vanish just that quickly. You get a few minutes of conversation at most. That’s it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a typical social environment, like a bar, or somewhere else, like the gym, the breakroom at work, or even the grocery store. If you meet a guy you’d like to get to know better, you get one shot at a first impression.
How do you make it count?
There are several psychological hacks[i] you can use to make the most of those moments. These aren’t tricks or traps. I would never suggest that you deceive a guy you’re interested in.
Instead, these are ways to fast-track showing him the kind of person you are. And at the same time, you’ll get to find out what kind of person he is.
If you want to make the most of an opportunity for romance, the following three hacks will help nail that first impression.
Fill in the blank in the following sentence. Ready?
Everything about my current relationship is great…except _______________________.
What did you put in the blank?
It sucks when almost everything about a dating relationship works. It is because it feels like you are just so close to heaven on earth… If it wasn’t for that one annoying issue.
And yet, it’s extremely common. Often, even really solid couples have one or two core complaints about each other.
But as common as this is, most folks don’t know how to get over the hump. And, ironically, when everything else seems to fit, it makes that one thing that doesn’t fit really stick out.
Like a thorn in your side.
Recently, I came across some good advice for dealing with this kind of thing. In a constant quest to bring you the very best relationship tips, I read a lot – everything from psychological journals to the kinds of magazines you find in supermarkets.
This little tidbit was in an article in Glamour. It was specifically about sex, but the principle can be applied to anything that’s holding you back.
Check out this quote:
“According to sex therapist Vanessa Marin, [getting past that one thing] all comes down to how willing you and your partner are to work on it. If you both are, there’s usually something that can be done. And if one of you isn’t, your relationship probably has bigger problems than sex.”[i]
As long as you and your guy can communicate effectively, no single issue should undo your whole relationship.
So, the real question is when something’s holding your relationship back, how do the two of you work through it?
It’s not too tough as long as you have a good strategy, and the following pointers can help.
A friend has just gotten into a new relationship. What’s the one question you ask her to make sure she’s not tangled up with the wrong guy?
“Are you happy?”
Being happy. It’s the calling card of good relationships.
If you’re with someone who’s good for you, then you’re going to be happy … right?
There’s an expiry date on relationship-induced happiness. Researchers have found that the bliss of being married only lasts two years. After that, happiness returns to its pre-engagement levels.
The theory of hedonic adaptation suggests that we can get used to anything, good or bad. Even if something amazing happens to us, that brief spike in happiness is only temporary. After it wears off, we feel much like we always do.
Even though it seems as if getting into a great relationship or walking down the aisle would bring you impossible levels of happiness, don’t be surprised if you find the novelty wearing off after a while.
You can become accustomed to anything, including the life of your dreams.
Why does this matter?
It matters because your happiness affects his happiness. He’ll find it tough to be happy in your relationship unless you’re happy, too.
A marital satisfaction survey published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that a man could be dissatisfied with his marriage but still happy overall, as long as his wife was happy.
If she’s not happy, though, his happiness plummets. Study co-author Deborah Carr suggests a new saying to summarize the findings: “Miserable wife, miserable life.”
Why does a man’s happiness depend so much on his partner’s?
Carr believes it’s because the quality of a relationship is dependent on the woman’s contributions. “If a marriage is good,” she explains, “it often is due to the stuff the wife is doing, the love and support that she’s giving.”
The idea that women carry the relationship won’t be news to many of you. But it carries interesting implications for what happens next…when the happiness-boosting effect of a new relationship wears off.
When was the last time you were upset? I mean REALLY upset.
Like Stacy. “It was like there was liquid anger in my veins,” she said. “I was so mad.”
Her boyfriend canceled their anniversary dinner because he thought the timing was “inconvenient” for his work schedule. She can remember what it felt like to this day.
Thankfully, she wasn’t able to confront her guy about it right away. It was a weekday and both were at work. She had to wait hours before she had a chance to talk to him.
During that time, she calmed down. That allowed her to think clearly about the best approach for the long-term health of the relationship.
Was she still upset? You betcha. But the intensity of her emotions leveled out. Instead of speaking from raw emotion, she was able to effectively communicate why his decision hurt her. And he seemed remorseful instead of defensive.
If she’d talked to him while she was still in the throes of intense emotion, their conversation wouldn’t have been nearly as productive.
Now, back to the last time YOU were upset. How long did it take for the feelings of frustration to fade a bit? Were you livid for only a few minutes, or were you ready to start World War III?
However long it takes you to cool off, going toe-to-toe with your guy (or anyone else) while you’re fuming is never a good idea.
There’s definitely a time and place for strong emotions. It’s appropriate to tell him you’re upset and why. But you want that conversation to move you forward as a couple, not just start a fight.
So when he does something upsetting, it is imperative that you tame those wild emotions BEFORE you try to talk to him.
Luckily, you have what author Karl Albrecht calls a “magic reset button” that can put you in a calmer frame of mind immediately.[i]
But before you can use your magic reset button you have to “install” it. Here’s how.
Have you ever tried to stick to a healthy diet while the guy you’re dating is sucking down cheese burgers and pizza? It’s not an easy thing to pull off.
I was talking to a friend about this recently. She’s on a health kick, hitting the gym several times a week and trying to make smart choices at meal times. But her boyfriend keeps ordering fried mozzarella before every meal and finishing off with lavish desserts!
More than once, she’s slipped. Just the other night she had salmon and steam veggies…followed by a nice, big slice of cheese cake and a sugary coffee drink.
Not that there’s anything wrong with splurging every now and then. There’s not! But if you’re trying to be militant and he’s all about cheese and grease, that’s not going to help with your fitness goals.
Plus, it can put a strain on your relationship.
And if you’ve ever tried to change the eating habits of a guy, you already know that approach typically doesn’t work. As the saying goes, the way to a guy’s heart is through his stomach. Taking away the food he loves isn’t going to make him crazy about you!
So how do you balance your own personal goals with his, especially if the two of you are shooting for different things?
After all, couples eat together all the time. It’s not like you can avoid the issue.
But it is possible to spend time with him without ditching your diet. You just have to have a strategy. I have three suggestions.[i]
Are you happier today than you were five years ago? Ten years ago? Do you think you’ll be even happier in another five or twenty-five years?
According to a recent study, you probably will be.
Researchers took a closer look at more than 1,500 people ranging in age from 21 to 100. They found that stuff like depression and anxiety were highest among younger people.
Older participants seemed to be happier in life.
There are a lot of reasons why that might be the case. One possible explanation is simply this: as people age, they learn to stop sweating the small stuff.
Think about that in the context of your dating relationship. When are you happiest with your man? When do you enjoy dating the most?
It’s probably when you’re not caught up in all the things you could be worried about. Things like what he thinks of you, where he thinks the relationship is going, or even how he feels about the outfit you’re wearing.
When you’re focused on everything that could go wrong, both big and small, it kills the joy of being alive.
Ready for the bad news?
The more serious your relationship gets, the harder it becomes NOT to worry. The stakes get higher. It’ll hurt more if it all falls apart.
Which means it’s entirely possible to have the best part of a dating relationship completely ruined by worry.
Would you rather avoid that pitfall? Here’s how you can.
Can you tell when a guy is flirting with you?
According to researchers, the answer is probably no. In a study published in 2014, only 36% of men could tell. And only 18% of women could tell.
That’s right. Out of five women, only one is likely to notice when a guy is flirting with her. The other four? Clueless.
Obviously, it doesn’t work exactly that way. Sometimes a person can tell and sometimes she can’t. But you get what I’m saying.
I’m going to help improve your batting average. And I’m going to do it by sharing a surprisingly accurate formula from a different research study.
But before I do, let’s examine why we’re so bad at detecting flirting.
Take a look at this conversation between two coworkers:
MAN: Hey, Cheryl.
WOMAN: Morning, Mike. Have a good weekend?
MAN: Not too bad, not too bad. My triathlon was Sunday, so I’m still pretty sore.
WOMAN: Oh, right! How’d it go?
MAN: Well, I finished, so that’s good, right? (laughs)
WOMAN: Um, I’d say. It’s certainly not something I could ever do.
MAN: Sure you could. You’ve already got a nice build. Just takes training.
WOMAN: (laughing) A lot of training, for me.
MAN: (laughing) A lot for anyone.
WOMAN: It does sound fun, though.
MAN: Well, you know, if you’re serious about trying, I’m available. I mean, you know, I’d be happy to help train with you.
WOMAN: Thanks. I’ll keep it in mind. See you.
MAN: See you.
Here’s what we know from what is actually said:
Mike could be flirting. He could be trying to find a way to spend more time with Cheryl. Because he likes her.
But there are alternative ways to see this, too.
Maybe he’s really into fitness. And he likes getting other people into fitness. Or wants someone to train with. Or perhaps he’s just a friendly guy.
From this conversation, it’s impossible to tell for sure.
Now, obviously in a real-life conversation, there would be other cues. Body language. Voice inflection.
Those things can help indicate interest.
But here’s the thing: most flirting is subtle. So it’s very easy to confuse friendliness with flirting. And vice versa.
Here’s where that other study comes in.
Stanford researchers put subjects through “speed dates.” Then asked them whether or not their partners were flirting.
But they also used something called a “flirtation detection system.”
It was better at detecting flirtation than both the men and women.
I’m going to break down how it works. So, you can keep their findings in mind the next time you wonder if a guy is really coming on to you.
There’s a problem with online dating sites.
It’s not that there aren’t enough guys using them. Or even enough good guys.
The problem is that it’s incredibly difficult to find the specific type of man you want.
Luckily, there’s a powerful tool all online dating sites have. This tool can help you weed out lots of bad matches. And focus on exactly what you want.
Unfortunately, it’s a tool most people don’t use very well.
I’m talking about the search function.
Now, undoubtedly, you have used search on dating sites. But I can almost guarantee that you have done one of two things:
1) Kept it too general, or
2) Gotten too specific
Both cause different issues and frustrations.
If you’re too general, you’ll get lots of matches. Maybe even too many matches. But almost none will be close to what you want.
If you’re too specific, you may end up with no matches.
Either scenario can leave you feeling frustrated. And very, very alone.
You might start to think there are no worthwhile guys online. No one who matches what you’re really looking for.
But I guarantee this isn’t true. So many people use online dating sites today. There are men online that are well-suited for you. Probably quite a few of them.
The trick is knowing how to find them.
Using search the right way helps a lot. So I’m going to teach you exactly how to do that.
But first, let’s talk a bit about dating sites themselves and the types of people they attract. Because if you want to find “your” type of man, the first step is to go where he is.
If this were the “real” world, I would tell you to frequent places your “type” is likely to be. Join activities they enjoy. And so on.
Online dating is no different in this respect.
There are a ridiculous number of niche dating sites out there. For people of specific ages. Particular religions. Those who are gluten-free. Farmers. (Yes, you read that right. Farmers!)
I could go on and on.
So before you do anything else, search for sites that match characteristics you want in your ideal guy. And give them a try.
Once you’re on a few, it’s time to learn how to search the right way.
Most of us spend our entire lives looking for love.
Our youth is consumed by it. No matter how much our parents loved us, it’s not the kind of love we crave. Nothing can substitute for romantic love. Dating feels like heaven, except when it feels like hell.
It’s never enough.
You fall in love, it’s amazing, and then it just flatlines. He acts like he loves you, but you’re never quite sure if he really loves you. You don’t feel completely loved from top to toe. You keep yourself braced for the day you’re sure will come, when he decides he’s bored with you and it’s all over.
Why is it so hard to feel loved, even when you’re in a committed relationship?
Two things could be happening.
Dr. Harville Hendrix and his wife, Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, made their living talking about what makes relationships last. They developed an influential theory about why we choose the partners we choose. Then they designed a style of couples therapy based on that theory.
And they were on the verge of divorce.
Not only was it humbling for them, but it was humiliating. They were internationally renowned relationship experts! And they couldn’t make their own marriage last?
They decided to give it one more year. Putting all their professional expertise to bear on their relationship, they finally figured it out:
They didn’t feel loved.
A surprising conclusion, to say the least. They’d been together for decades. They were kind, thoughtful, and loving to one another.
But knowing they were loved wasn’t the same thing as feeling loved.
Let’s start off with a quick mental exercise.
Think of three things your man doesn’t know about you. Even if you’ve been together for years, that should be easy.
Now for the hard part.
Ask yourself WHY he doesn’t know these three things. Is it because this stuff has just never come up? Or is it because you’re keeping details about your life from him?
The answer matters. Let me explain.
The issue of privacy comes up a lot in the modern world. You hear about it all the time as it relates to things like Facebook and internet use. Privacy has its place online… and in dating relationships.
Privacy is about those moments when no one is observing you. When something is private, it just means it happened where others couldn’t see. Privacy isn’t bad.
However, if there are things you’re keeping from him because you fear he will be upset, angry, or hurt, that’s not privacy. That’s keeping a secret.[i]
And here’s the problem with secrets in dating relationships. They destroy trust.
So, there’s this tension in every romance between privacy and secrecy. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just come home from your first date or you’ve been together for 20 years. The tension is real.
When is it better to just leave a skeleton in the closet? When is privacy a good thing?
The following tips will help you decide.
Sometimes, people who want to make you happy give you really bad advice.
It’s frustrating to watch someone you care about agonize over a guy who doesn’t even know she exists. Her unreciprocated love doesn’t just make her suffer; it makes everyone around her suffer, too.
Think of that classic scene from the film Love, Actually. Sarah, who works at an ad agency, moons over her gorgeous co-worker Karl. Her boss finally pulls her aside and tells her to do something about it, for the sake of everyone in the office. He offers a plan:
“Invite [Karl] out for a drink and then, after about 20 minutes, casually drop into the conversation the fact that you’d like to marry him and have lots of sex and babies.”
Should she take his advice?
Of course not!
Every woman alive knows just how terrible that plan is. It only works if you want to scare a guy off for good…or get used by a heartless guy.
But some advice given to you by well-meaning parties can sound good on the surface. You might be tempted to take it, particularly if you don’t have any other ideas.
Before you do…
Think it through first.
A lot of so-called “good advice” can actually backfire. At best, it moderately improves your chances of catching his eye. At worst, it wrecks any chance you ever had with him.
Here are 4 examples.
Have you ever put special effort into doing your hair and makeup, or choosing just the right outfit, because you knew you were going to be seeing someone you were interested in?
Most women do. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if it gives you confidence. The problem with this strategy is when it is all you do.
When you put all your effort into looking great only to stand there, hoping to be noticed.
Looks are a starting place, but they’re not a plan. Your LBD can’t do all the talking for you. It is still up to you to strike up a conversation and create a connection.
There’s another bit of advice that’s even worse…
Life’s too short. Be brave. Grab the bull by the horns and tell him how you feel. The worst he can say is no.
It sounds so right in theory. Honesty is always the best policy!
But there are some very sound reasons not to tell him how you feel—at least, not until you know him well.
Have you ever seen a “mentalist” perform?
Mentalists are stage magicians who specialize in “mind control” tricks. Here’s an example.
The mentalist asks you to think of a number. While you’re thinking, he writes a number down on a clipboard right in front of you, but shielding the number from view. Then you say your number out loud and, with a flourish, he turns the clipboard to reveal…YOUR NUMBER!
But it’s not magic at all. When he first appears to write your number down, he’s not really writing anything. Then, when you say your number out loud, he uses a small bit of pencil lead embedded in a fake fingertip to write your number just before he reveals it.
It’s a simple trick, but it’s also powerful. In fact, a recent study put volunteers through a series of “mind control” simulations like the one above and then asked how they felt when they were being “controlled.”[i]
The participants said they could feel thoughts being inserted into their heads! It was all fake, but that didn’t matter. They still FELT controlled.
The study teaches us that you can have control over something, but still feel completely out of control. When that happens, it affects your choices, your attitude, and your experiences.
Think about that in the context of your relationships. Dating can be chaotic. Sometimes it feels like you have no control, and that feeling will definitely affect how you interact with your man.
The truth is you ALWAYS have some control. You’re one of the two people steering the whole relationship. So it’s important that you always feel that control.
There are three things you can do to keep from feeling helpless or out of control in the topsy-turvy world of dating. Think of these as mind control tricks you can use on yourself.
Which of the following two scenarios do you think would get better results?
There’s a local coffee shop. The shop owner wants to start giving customers rewards cards. After a customer buys so many coffees, they get one free.
But he has two versions of the card. One has 10 spaces, the other 12. But here’s the catch. If he uses the cards with 12 spaces, he plans to stamp the cards twice when he hands them out…saying, “Here are two stamps to give you a head start.”
Either way, you have to buy 10 coffees to get a free one. Which card do you think would be more effective as motivation?
Believe it or not, someone’s has actually done a study[i] on this. Despite the fact that folks have to buy just as many drinks to get a free one, the card with 12 slots is consistently more motivating!
Why? Researchers concluded that it’s because progress, in and of itself, is motivating.
The progress doesn’t even have to be real. Just the FEELING of progress is enough to keep you going.
Of course, the inverse is true, too. If you feel like you’re not making progress, your motivation takes a serious hit.
Which is why it’s so very important that you and your guy feel like your relationship is moving forward. You need to feel like things are improving and that you’re growing as a couple. If you don’t, you’ll be less inclined to give the relationship your all.
But remember, it’s not even actual progress that matters for motivation. It’s the feeling of progress that keeps us engaged.
With that in mind, I have three mind-hacks for keeping you and your guy motivated to make your relationship as awesome as it can possibly be.
You smile at a cute guy across the room. He saunters over. And you start talking.
Things are going great…
Until the music starts blaring. Making talking impossible.
And the lights dim. Making it hard to see each other.
People dance, bumping into you. Which is distracting.
Both of you are frustrated. And it’s killing the mood.
You’d ask the guy to leave with you. But you barely know him.
Bad venues are like romantic poison. They destroy your chance at making a connection.
As if finding a guy wasn’t hard enough already!
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to fight back against “bad venue poison.” And even avoid it altogether. Or at least reduce your chances of running into it.
In this post, I’m going to teach you how to overcome this problem.
These simple tips will apply to both actual dates and more casual encounters. In other words, they’re useful no matter what relationship stage you’re in.
They fall into one of three categories:
Let’s start with planning.
This may seem fairly obvious. You want to plan to avoid bad venues in the first place.
But I’m going to show you exactly how to do that. Without visiting every possible date location in your city.
The place to start: review sites. They make this process easier than ever before.
It’s likely you’ve used them before. But you may not have really delved into them. Because most review sites go far beyond providing you with a general “good” or “bad” rating.
Yelp, for example, has a special column called “More business info.” There, you’ll find things like Ambience, Noise Level, and whether they serve alcohol.
Plus, you can filter and search for specific words. Things you want your venue to have. Or not.
Review sites can be invaluable. But don’t stop there.
Many venues host special events to draw people in. Trivia nights. Live music. Drink sales.
Even if a place is normally perfect for you to connect with a guy, these events can throw things off.
So do another two minutes of planning. It’s worth it. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When you find a place you like, check their website and their social media pages.
Make sure the atmosphere fits your needs at the actual time you’re going.
Most of the time this will solve the bad venue problem for you. But not always.
That’s where the other two tips come in. How to escape or fix a low-quality venue when it’s blocking your conversation with an interesting guy.
It happens in every relationship.
You say something, and there’s an awkward silence. Tension descends. Something’s wrong. You don’t know what. He looks away. His mouth is tight.
Fear hits you in the gut. You’re losing him! You can’t let that happen.
What you do next tells him if this is going to be a relationship like every other…
Or if it’s going to be the one that upends everything he thought was true about love.
So what do you do when that awkward moment happens? When you notice that something you said hit him the wrong way, but you’re not sure why?
Maybe you backtrack. You keep talking, trying to rephrase the sentence or explain yourself. You talk and talk and talk until you get some reaction out of him, any reaction. Then you see him smile, and you breathe a sigh of relief. Phew … crisis over.
There’s an alternative:
And face up.
“I feel like I said the wrong thing there. That wasn’t my intention.”
How often do you think he hears that?
Not enough, that’s for sure.
Apologies are tricky. Research shows that women say sorry a lot more than men. But it’s not always for good reasons. Many women apologize for things that don’t require an apology, such as getting bumped, being offended, or taking longer to do something than expected.
When you apologize too much for trivial things, “sorry” loses its meaning.
On the other side of the spectrum, some people reserve their “sorry” for times when it really matters. It goes without saying that an apology is required after a major mistake. But most of us don’t make major mistakes that often. We can get out of the habit of saying sorry, which makes it awkward when we do have to apologize.
There’s a third way to use apologies, one that you don’t hear much about:
To acknowledge how he’s feeling.
You’re out and about. You see a guy you’re interested in. You get his attention with welcoming body language. He approaches. Introductions occur. There’s a nervous, excited vibe between the two of you.
But what follows is just… nothing. Silence. Because neither of you seems to know what to say. How to start. How to draw the other person out.
Eventually you break the silence. Ask what he does. And he answers. With a single sentence. Followed by more silence.
So you ask if he likes his job. His answer: “Yes. It’s good work and I like it.” And then nothing.
Your brain races as you desperately grasp for things to say. Frustration sets in. Desperation. Embarrassment. Maybe even annoyance.
You blame yourself for not doing better. Or him for not trying harder. And it’s not long before one of you is looking for an exit.
The result: a missed connection. And probably more anxiety the next time a guy approaches. Because you do not want to go through that again.
We expect conversations to have a natural flow. A comfortable back and forth. To be smooth. Almost effortless.
When that happens, it’s like magic. Like you’re dancing with each other. Like you know the right moves without even having to ask.
Unfortunately, most initial interactions are not like this. There are stops and starts. Wrong steps as you feel each other out.
Especially if the goal is a romantic connection.
Because it makes both of you feel a bit anxious. So you’re more focused on not saying the wrong thing.
Which makes the conversation awkward. Stilted. And that can lead to one or both of you giving up and walking off.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Most people think that the secret to keeping a conversation going is to talk. But that’s not true. What you should do instead is get him talking.
You do this by using the principle of inspiration and invitation. And I’m going to show you how.
Everyone says, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
But what if that’s backwards?
What if you can’t see something until you believe it’s possible?
Let me give you an example.
Every day, men smile at women they’d secretly love to get to know better. Women smile back, thinking, he’s cute. But, because neither person believes it’s possible that the other person could feel the same way, they go their separate ways. They miss making that connection, because they don’t believe it’s possible.
Do you do that?
Take a moment to think about all the single men you cross paths with who are roughly in your age range. How many of those men would be interested in getting to know you better?
Chances are good it’s more than you think.
It’s so easy to be dismissive. A man lingers to talk to you, and you don’t think anything about it. He’s nice, you think, and you go about the rest of your day. Meanwhile, he’s cursing himself. He fumbled it, he didn’t spark any chemistry, he didn’t take the conversation further.
This can happen over and over again. Meanwhile, you’re thinking, “No one ever asks me out. I guess I’m just not that attractive.”
One of the biggest differences between women who date a lot and women who can never find a date is that women who date a lot expect men to be attracted to them.
These women have a strong belief system that goes like this:
If you’re female, of course men would be attracted to you! Men are always attracted to women. It’s a law of nature.
Women who struggle to find a date tend to believe something different:
Men are only attracted to extremely attractive women. They ignore ordinary women. If you’re ordinary, men will ignore you.
If you look for evidence of men making a beeline towards extremely attractive women and ignoring the rest, you’ll find it.
If you look for evidence of men chatting up all kinds of women, even those who aren’t conventionally attractive, you’ll find that, too.
We all tend to pick up on things that confirm what we already believe. In fact, our beliefs create our experiences to a much greater extent than we realize.
Have you ever wondered why men are so much more reluctant to share their feelings than women?
The technical term for when a guy has a hard time talking about how he feels is “Normative Male Alexithymia.” That’s a ridiculously complicated way of saying that many men think they’ll appear weak if they share.[i]
Men are taught from a young age that anything they say that makes them sound needy, dependent, or vulnerable translates to failure as a man.
This reality is what prompted Dr. Michael Kimmel to observe, “If I was to say what is the major emotion of American masculinity, it is anxiety. Why? Because you have to prove your masculinity all the time.”
Sounds pretty horrible, right?
And it’s a double whammy. If your guy won’t share with you, it keeps you from being close. But it also means he’s under pressure ALL THE TIME to prove himself.
So how do you help him get over that major hurdle? What can you do to help him open up without making him feel like he’s not a real man?
The single biggest thing you can do is show him that he can trust you not to shame him. If he truly believes there’s no shame in being vulnerable with you, he’ll share.
Building trust is an epic relationship task, but it’s really not that hard to pull off. If you do just two things, his trust will grow and he’ll be far more likely to open up to you.
Maybe you work 60 hours a week. Or you have kids. Or a demanding social life. Or maybe you’re going to night classes for a career makeover.
But you also want romance in your life.
The problem is, you’re short on time.
You cram as much as possible into each day. You run from one commitment to another. You complete errand after errand.
But your task list doesn’t seem to get any shorter. And at the end of each day, you’re exhausted.
You don’t see how you could possibly find time to date.
For your own sake, please don’t think that way. If you really want love in your life, you can find the time.
Which is not to say it will be easy.
To fit dating into your life, you will need to use a few tactics that less busy people don’t need.
We’ll start with a tactic I call “the overlap.”
This is an “outside-the-box” way of thinking. Here’s the gist. Think of something you need to do anyway, and make it into a date.
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Let me show you some examples:
These are errand dates. I’ve talked to women who swear by this technique. Because they get to date while getting stuff done.
And perhaps even more important is this. Women tell me guys really get into this. It’s like they have a “mission” to help you with. And that makes them relax a little more than they otherwise would.
Maybe you like this idea. Maybe not. Either way, you’ll definitely need to use this next tactic.
What do you hope for in a dating relationship?
It’s a simple question that can lead to some complex answers. Fun dates and first kisses are nice, but you probably have your sights set on something long-term. If you really let your mind go, you could end up thinking about where you want to be in five or ten years.
And here’s the catch. Even if what you truly want from dating is to meet THE ONE, you have to be careful about how you say that.
Imagine he’s picking you up for your first date. He compliments you and then walks you to his car. On the way, you blurt out, “I’m really looking forward to this date. I’ve been searching high and low for someone I can have it all with. Marriage, kids, the whole shebang! Maybe that’s you!”
That’s going to make for some really awkward dinner conversation. You know, if he doesn’t just scream and run.
So there’s this tension. You want a relationship that’s long-term oriented, but if you focus too much on the long-term, it hurts where you are NOW.
One quick side-note. I’m assuming you’re already implementing the foundational principles I normally encourage to spark commitment in the first place…like the respect principle for example. It’s important to get relationship basics down first.
After that, turn your attention to making the relationship last. Ironically, you do that by focusing on today, not tomorrow.
Even Harvard researchers agree. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, their research shows that big goals have the potential to distract you from the smaller things you need to do each day to get where you want to go.[i]
There’s a surprisingly simple solution.
Forget about those long-term goals, at least while your relationship is young. Don’t even think about them. Instead, focus on the daily health of your relationship.
And it gets better. It’s super easy and even fun to shift your focus away from the long-term to the present.
The difference between romantic success and disaster comes down to just two things, and they have nothing to do with long-term focus. According to relationship psychologists, a lasting relationship comes down to emotional connection and kindness.[ii]
You can kill both birds with one stone using a simple strategy.
You’ve probably noticed that happiness is a buzz word lately. There are all kinds of happiness studies going on. It’s suddenly the ‘it thing’ to talk about.
Which kind of makes sense. Who doesn’t want to be happier?
Here’s some of what we’ve figured out so far. Happiness isn’t getting everything you want all the time. It’s not even having all your needs met, or never feeling sad.
Instead, happiness has more to do with peace of mind. [i]
Which also makes sense. It’s not possible to be giddy every second of every day. (Besides, how annoying are the people who act like they are?)
Happiness can’t be THAT.
Peace of mind, on the other hand, is possible. Even on a rough day, peace of mind will keep you calm, anchored, and feeling secure.
Think about how epic that would be in your relationship. If you’re happy in your relationship, it means you are at peace in the relationship and you feel content.
You can have a fight…and relax afterward because you know it doesn’t mean he stopped loving you. You don’t have to get everything right all the time to keep him committed. It takes a ton of pressure off, and that makes it easier to actually connect.
And in just 120 seconds, you can be happier.
So, what is this two-minute trick that boosts happiness, and how can you use it to make your relationship better?
Just for a second, imagine your perfect guy. Not in terms of looks or chemistry. Focus on the mundane stuff. The things you’re actually going to care about a year from now.
It can seem like this guy simply doesn’t exist. But for many women, he’s actually already in their lives.
I’m talking about that male friend who has fallen off your romantic radar. Or maybe was never on your romantic radar in the first place.
We tend to discount people who we’ve placed in “friend zone.” But we shouldn’t. Because the real foundation of a lasting relationship isn’t physical attraction.
What makes relationships work long-term, according to both anecdotal evidence and relationship studies, is friendship.
If you already have that foundation in place, so much the better.
So what’s stopped you from considering this guy in the past? Let me guess…
“But I don’t think of him that way.”
“If he liked me, he would have already made a move.”
“I don’t want to make things weird between us.”
Let me answer these fears one at a time.
And if it does work out, you could have something extraordinary instead.
So I’m going to help you determine whether or not it’s worth taking this leap.
First, I’ll share signs that can tell you if he’s interested. Then I’ll show you a simple technique that can help take him out of your own mental “friend zone.”
Women in their 40s and 50s often tell me it’s hard to date.
I know it can be tough putting yourself out there and finding someone. Especially if you’re newly divorced or coming out of another long-term relationship.
But here are some of the specific complaints I hear:
“There aren’t any good men.”
“No one is worth my time.”
“Guys don’t want to commit.”
Yes, many older men are either jaded, too stubborn, or uninterested in starting over and building something beautiful with you. But there are good men out there too. There are good 50-year-old guys out there. Just like there are good 20-year-old guys.
Here’s what I think the difference is.
As we get older, we tend to lose patience. We’re more rigid in our likes and dislikes. More demanding.
Dating stops being “dating.” It’s not about getting to know someone. About having fun. About forging a connection.
In effect, it becomes a job interview. Does this person possess the necessary qualifications?
Some women tell me they know if a man is “right” for them within a minute or two.
If he’s not “right,” they tune out. They start thinking about setting up a date with the next guy.
These women are not trying to date – they’re trying to close a deal. Trying to reach a finish line.
The desire is understandable. Some may feel like they don’t have time to waste. Others may barely remember what it’s like not to be in a committed relationship.
But there’s a big problem with “dating” like this: It’s exhausting! Demoralizing! Boring!
Dating is supposed to be fun. Interviewing is the opposite of fun. So, of course, dating becomes a slog. And many older women give up on it.
Don’t fall into this trap. Dating after forty can be amazing. You just have to reframe how you look at it.
It’s a mistake to arrive with a checklist of mandatory qualities. Don’t immediately try to determine if a man “fits” you. Take a deep breath.
Look at it as just a fun night out. An opportunity to get to know a new man. To see if he’s interesting as a person.
This is what most of us did when we were younger. You hung out with guys and got to know them. Sometimes a relationship would naturally flow out of that. Sometimes it didn’t.
That kind of dating is a lot more satisfying.
Because you focus on having fun. On simple companionship. On getting to know someone.
This is far better than trying to find someone to match the imaginary ideal in your head. Because you get to discover real people. And you feel less stressed when you leave your list of ideal attributes behind.
And it’s a lot easier to fall for a person over time. You discover depths you never would have noticed with a checklist-style of mate selection.
Are you ready to embrace this advice? Then let’s talk about how to make this mindset a reality as you search for relaxed enjoyment…and just maybe discover a partner in the process.
Imagine you’re out with a few friends trying to find a guy.
You’re at a bar. The drinks flow. Music plays. People struggle to talk over it and each other. Everyone is squeezed into “sexy” attire. Trying to be impressive.
You do your best to seem open and interested as you make eye contact with men in the room. But it’s just not happening. No one’s biting.
And you just know it’s going to be a long night.
If this sounds familiar, keep reading. I am going to show you what might be holding guys back from approaching you. The key may lie in a single word: impressive.
But first, I want you to consider a totally different scenario.
You’re at a business networking event. A woman you really admire in your field is there. Someone really impressive to you.
She’s in her element. She’s dressed to the nines. She knows everyone at the event.
You desperately want to approach. To introduce yourself.
But something holds you back. It’s incredibly intimidating.
That’s the experience many men have when they notice a woman that interests them.
If you are like many of my private clients, you’re impressive. And you’re holding out for an equally impressive guy. Of course, that makes it hard for guys to get up the nerve to approach.
They may fear they don’t live up to your high standards. Or that they will face stiff competition. They don’t want to be rejected.
Now I want to be clear. Being impressive is an asset. You want to impress guys. Attract their interest. Capture their imagination.
But you also want to make it easy for them to approach.
I’m about to tell you how you do both at once.
Let’s go back to networking with that women you admire.
Imagine you see her at the bar where you were chatting up the bar tender the day before. She’s trying to get the attention of the bartender.
But it’s not happening. It’s a busy night. And he just doesn’t notice her.
But you know the bartender. You know the best way to get his attention.
Suddenly the idea of approaching her is easier. You do her a solid. You flag down the bartender for her.
She thanks you. It creates an easy opening for a conversation. Suddenly, you’re chatting like best friends. Just like you hoped you would.
In this second scenario, she was just as impressive as ever. But it was much easier to make an approach. For one simple reason. She needed your help.
You can apply this to dating. You can use it to encourage men to approach.
Men want to be your hero. It’s something about our mental make-up. We want to help. To show you how helpful and useful we can be.
So give us an opportunity to shine. Even in a small way. It makes it a lot easier for us to approach. You’ll become Our Secret Obsession if you do.
Don’t simply wait for a guy who’s “man enough” to approach you. You’ll severely limit your options.
Be impressive. But do it in venues where men will have more opportunities to impress you. By helping you with something.
This means checking your ego at the door. You need to be willing to show your own lack of skill. To learn something new.
I am going to suggest a few types of venues that can fit the bill. These places also tend to be male-dominated. So you’ll have even more of an edge. Because you won’t have as much competition.
You’re at a party. You notice a guy smiling at you. It seems like the nice thing to do, so you smile back. Then he comes over and hits on you. Oh, boy…
You’re not interested. But you don’t want to crush him. So you endure it. When you have a chance to slip away, you take it. Whew!
But later he finds you. And he keeps hitting on you. Frustrating! Even more so because he does it in front of a guy you do like. Which causes that guy to back away.
You’re so annoyed that you lash out at the flirter. Go away. Stop following me. Don’t be a creep.
I can’t tell you how many times women have told me about experiences like this. Of course, this was an extreme example. Usually, it’s just being hit on unexpectedly by a guy she’s not interested in. It happens over and over.
It’s distracting. It can be annoying. But the real problem is when a guy like this blocks the advances of the man you actually like.
So let’s talk solutions.
Have you ever been on an awkward first date?
I know. That’s almost like asking if you’ve ever been on ANY first dates.
First dates are tough. Expectations are often high. There’s an air of excitement, but there’s anxiety, too.
You want him to like you. He wants you to like him. Both of you are showing a bit of nervousness, and that doesn’t really set the stage for mind-blowing conversation.
There are a gazillion articles online and in the pages of women’s magazines full of first date advice. Everything from fashion choices, to makeup, to topics you should always/never bring up.
But what if I told you there’s one thing you could do that would immediately build trust and a sense of closeness?
Researcher Ayelet Fishbach recently concluded a study[i] that reveals a surprising secret to fast-tracking rapport. And here’s the twist. It has nothing to do with how you look or what comes out of your mouth.
It’s all about what goes INTO your mouth.
Believe it or not, eating the same foods with someone creates a legitimate social bond.
Fishbach put it this way. “People tend to think that they use logic to make decisions, and they are largely unaware that food preferences can influence their thinking. On a very basic level, food can be used strategically to help people work together and build trust.”
That’s got to be the single easiest way to help a first date along. And I have two suggestions for how you can put this inside knowledge to work.
Which kind of person are you?
The kind to charge in when something scares you? Or the kind to back away from risky situations?
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess. You’re BOTH.
Most of us are. There are times when we embrace risk, and times when we run from it.
My friend, Kendra, is a great example. She was insanely courageous when her mom was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. At a time when most would freak out, she rose to the challenge, supporting her mom with fierce strength. To this day, she still runs races to raise money for research.
But the very same friend panicked when her boyfriend started talking about the future. Marriage, kids, and buying a home – they all seemed like such big steps! She spent weeks avoiding those topics because she just couldn’t handle them.
Not an ideal response.
Running from something that scares you isn’t a great strategy. I’ll give you one reason that may surprise you.
Embracing risk makes you smarter.[i]
When you tackle an uncertain situation, it forces you to learn. You learn things you would’ve missed if you waited anxiously, trying to figure out the right answer before actually diving in.
When you tackle something risky in your relationship, the only way to reduce uncertainty is to increase your “relational intelligence.”
What’s relational intelligence? It’s the kind of wisdom and insight you use to make your relationships stronger.
Embracing risk improves your relational intelligence. Let me show you how.
Increasing your relational intelligence isn’t complicated. You just have to be willing to do a few things that sound intimidating. Here are the three steps…
Have you ever spotted a solo diner at a restaurant?
Maybe you were out with some friends or on a date. Just a few tables over someone sat alone. You watched them for a while, stealing discreet glances when you could.
What’s their story?, you wondered. Why are they here ALONE?!
Once you see that table for one, it’s kind of mesmerizing. You might feel bad for them. We often assume someone eating alone doesn’t have the option of company.
But I’ll let you in on a secret.
Those lone diners? They’re probably enjoying life more than those of us afraid of venturing out without constant companionship.[i] They might even have healthier relationships than you!
Why? Because the fear of doing things alone creates desperation. And desperation is bad for your relationships (both romantic and platonic).
People can sense desperation. It introduces “obligation” to the dynamics of your relationship. Obligation to be there for you since you are needy.
It makes you needy whenever you want to venture out and do something fun. You’re desperate for company. Don’t be like that. Independence is healthy in small doses.
It sounds unsettling or depressing to think about doing some things alone. Especially things we think of as social activities, like eating out or going to the movies. But if you always turn down solo activities, you’ll miss out on a lot.
You can’t always count on company for life’s little adventures.
What’s more, as one article put it, “research suggests we’re terrible at guessing how much we’ll enjoy things on our own, and it holds us back.”[ii] People consistently underestimate how much fun they can have by themselves.
I’m not a big fan of missing out on worthwhile experiences, and you probably aren’t, either. So here’s how to go it alone from time to time and get the most out of life.
Here’s a question for you. Which is easier to remember? The good times or the bad times?
Psychologist Karen Young says that we’re literally “wired to remember things that bring us pain.”[i] Ouch.
She says this is a part of an ancient survival instinct. It’s like a warning system left over from a more primitive time. It’s something our ancestors had to do to stay alive.
Which is good. I’m kind of glad they managed to pull off surviving.
But that leaves us with an unfortunate leftover. We tend to be better at remembering negative stuff. And boy, oh boy, can that impact the connection you share with your partner.
You don’t want your strongest memories as a couple to be negative. The fights, the struggles, the times of doubt. Wouldn’t you rather focus on the times when the two of you were really in sync?
Well, I’ve got some good news.
While you’ll have to work a little harder to remember positive times, it’s totally worth the extra effort. Because, get this… research shows that intentionally focusing on positive memories will strengthen a couple’s bond. [ii]
Think of it like you’re building a house. Your connection with each other is the foundation, and I can show you how to make that connection even stronger.
Here’s how it works.
How do you feel about the idea of quitting?
I mean quitting on a relationship when there is still a mix of both good and bad. Your stomach just rolled, didn’t it?
Yeah, I feel the same way. I don’t like the notion of giving up, either. And we’re not alone.
How many times have you heard, “Winners never quit and quitters never win?” Our culture has this shared conviction that it’s always noble to press on, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
That’s why we like movies about underdogs, from Rudy to The Devil Wears Prada.
But what if you’re after something that’s genuinely unattainable? What if you have a goal that you really can’t reach? What if you’re the underdog, but it’s impossible for you to come out on top?
Psychologists Gregory Miller and Carsten Wrosch asked that very question. They spent a year tracking 90 teenagers who were goal-setters. The ones who couldn’t let go of their unachievable goals paid for it with their health, showing early signs of conditions that lead to diabetes, early aging, and heart disease![i]
The researchers’ conclusion was simple. There are times when quitting is the best option.
Ready for this to get WAY more personal? Think about that truth in light of your dating life.
Which begs the question, how do you know when it’s time to give up on a relationship and move on?
We’ve all heard the warnings.
Do not date someone from work. It’s not worth putting your career at risk or wrecking your reputation. You’ll regret it.
But how true is it?
Not at all, according to the 1 in 10 Americans who met their future spouse at work.
Since the 1960s, work has consistently been one of the top venues for meeting romantic prospects. No wonder: we spend about a third of our adult lives at work. We don’t have time to meet anyone elsewhere.
As the boundaries between work and personal life have grown more and more blurred, office romances have become more acceptable. One in two people has had an office fling. Some companies even encourage dating for the sake of office moral. If you’re going to encourage employees to mix and mingle at staff get-togethers and drinks after work, then whose fault is it when friendly camaraderie turns to romance?
At a glance, the people we meet at work seem ideally suited to us. They’re interested in similar topics. They’re educated to a similar level. They live close by. They may even share a similar personality type.
The propinquity effect states that people who see one another often tend to grow close emotionally. Students tend to date other students. People who attend the same church or workout at the same gym often date one another.
Nowhere is the propinquity effect stronger than in the workplace.
Helaine Olen, co-author of Office Mate: Your Employee Handbook for Finding and Managing Romance on the Job, claims that working together fosters the ideal conditions for romance, in no small part because it pushes together people who’d otherwise have nothing else in common.
She met her husband at work. Had she met him at a bar, she would have given him no more than a passing glance. He wasn’t her type.
Olen and co-author Stephanie Losee also claim that the workplace is a more honest venue to meet members of the opposite sex. You know who you’re getting, unlike the guy you met online or at a club. Thanks to ubiquitous office gossip, everyone knows everyone else’s back story. You can find whether the guy you’re interested in is a cad or a decent sort, simply by asking around.
What’s your stance on keeping secrets from your guy?
Ask ten different women that question and you’ll get ten different answers. Some are advocates of sharing EVERYTHING, while others want to maintain areas of privacy, even in a serious relationship.
You probably have friends at both extremes.
I share a lot about my personal life with a coworker and friend named Jane. But I know she’s going to tell her boyfriend, Steve. Telling Jane is basically telling Steve. I’m not kidding.
My friend Sharon, on the other hand, is a vault. If I tell her something in confidence, she’ll take it to the grave. Even if her boyfriend walks up and asks what we were just talking about, she easily sidesteps the question if she feels it was my information to share.
Most of us live somewhere in the middle, making on-the-spot decisions about what to share as situations come up.
But that can produce a lot of anxiety.
Sometimes keeping a secret feels a bit too much like lying by omission, even when the secret isn’t “bad.” And if your significant other pushes you to spill the beans, it feels awkward to keep your lips sealed.
Art Markman is a professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas. According to him, it’s mentally draining to keep a secret.[i]
Fortunately, Markman has some advice that makes it easier to know when we should keep secrets, and makes them a little less burdensome to bear.
It’s all about realizing that sometimes it’s beneficial to withhold information. Even from your man.
Most of the time, my advice focuses on attracting guys. You want their attention. You want a connection. If a guy focuses on you, it’s a win, right?
Well, not always.
When you put yourself out there, it’s important to remember something: some guys are predators. Pick-up artists.
They have no interest in a relationship. Their only goal is to get you to go home with them. To “score.” Then move on to the next woman.
Now you can’t let this keep you from dating. Don’t just lock yourself up at home. Do this, and you’ll never meet the guy of your dreams!
But you also can’t be blind to the problem.
That’s why I decided to write this post. My sole goal here is to help you avoid these men. Because they are a waste of your time. And they endanger your emotional well-being.
In order to avoid them, you have to recognize their tactics. Let’s get started!
It’s no one’s place to tell you who to be attracted to.
You’re attracted to who you’re attracted to. It may look crazy to outsiders, but it’s your right. No one else can see through your eyes. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So how do you know who’s the perfect match for you, if no one can help you?
It’s not an easy decision to make on your own. Perhaps you’re not sure if you should stick with the man you’re seeing, or you’re wondering whether Bachelor A would be a better long-term bet than Bachelor B.
There’s no one right way to decide whether to stick with a relationship or choose one man over another.
But there is one piece of information that’s more important than all the others.
One piece of information that predicts better than any other whether you have what it takes to last the long haul.
Take a guess. Do you think it’s:
The answer is D. Don’t look at him to decide. Look at your relationship instead.
Set aside what you think of him as a person. Instead, ask yourself how you FEEL when you’re together. Is this a great relationship? The best you’ve ever had? Then who cares if he’s not perfect?
This shift in focus is a radical change from how most of us make relationship decisions.
Popular culture encourages us to take the perspective of consumers. People are like products. We weigh desirable traits against undesirable ones. If he has a lot going for him, then he’s a catch. If he doesn’t have many desirable traits, then he’s not worth pursuing.
But this marketplace approach is rife with problems. Attraction isn’t quantifiable. You can’t put a value on people.
A better approach is to see attraction as something that happens in the space between two people.
This idea dates back to a 1923 book by philosopher Martin Buber. He argued that we can choose to relate to others in one of two ways.
Do you consider yourself a lucky person?
That may sound like a silly question. Right about now I’m supposed to share some kind of useful relationship-building tip. Instead, I’m asking if you think you’re lucky.
Well, buckle up. Here comes that hard-hitting truth you ordered. Two of them, in fact.
First, luck is a real thing. It may not be what you think it is, but it IS real.
Second, seeing yourself as lucky will have measurable positive effects on your life. Conversely, seeing yourself as unlucky will hold you back.
Research psychologist Richard Wiseman did a fascinating experiment a few years ago.[i] He started by finding two groups of people. Some who saw themselves as lucky, and some who believed they were unlucky.
He gave each group the same newspaper and the same instructions. All they had to do was tell him how many pictures were in the paper.
The unlucky people averaged a couple of minutes to complete the task. The lucky people, mere seconds.
On the second page of the newspaper was a huge message that said, “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” The lucky people saw it while the unlucky completely missed it.
Based on that experiment and others, Wiseman concluded that luck is primarily a matter of perspective.
Lucky people are OPEN to chance opportunities. They EXPECT good things to happen. As a result, they tend to catch things that unlucky people don’t.
If you apply that simple truth to dating, it can have a tremendous impact. Let me show you how…
You already know that guys and girls handle stress differently. You’ve seen that reality in action.
Think about the last time your guy had a really chaotic day. Maybe things went sideways on him at work, or his car broke down, or there was some kind of family drama. How did he handle it?
If he’s like most guys, he went into problem-solving mode. That’s what guys do. And it often involves being short or ignoring you.
By contrast, women tend to seek empathy and relational connection when they’re stressed. That’s why you feel compelled to talk to a trusted friend on bad days.
But the difference goes even deeper.
When guys are stressed, they get very pragmatic. Emotions get in the way of problem-solving. So, he’ll repress his feelings to give himself the mental space to find a solution. [i]
Which technique is better? Neither. They’re just different. But the difference is crucial.
How crucial? I’ll put it this way. If you don’t have a strategy for dealing with him when he’s stressed, the two of you could end up butting heads when he needs your support the most.
So how do you handle a stressed out guy?
Did you know there’s only one technique for improving relationships that’s actually been proven to work?
That’s right. Just one.
I know what you’re thinking. I suggest tips for making your relationship better all the time. Not only that, but I back up my suggestions with research. How can there be only ONE surefire method?
It all comes down to the limitations of studying relationships.
The vast majority of studies rely on the concept of correlation. Correlation is not the same as causality.
It’s fairly easy for researchers to identify the typical characteristics of successful relationships. Couples that are happy tend to have good communication, for example. But that’s correlation. It’s not the same as proving that good communication causes healthy relationships.
Sure, it stands to reason that patterning your relationship after other healthy relationships will improve your connection with your guy.
But in a sense, even the best studies on romantic bliss are just educated guesses. Very well educated guesses, but guesses all the same.
Except for one.
According to a study done back in 2000, the key to making your relationship better is to do new and interesting things with your partner on a regular basis.[i]
Granted, that study is more than 15 years old, but that’s a good thing. Its conclusions have stood the test of time.[ii]
Just make sure you don’t miss the two most important details.
You know the iconic image.
James Dean in a white t-shirt and leather jacket with his hair combed back sloppily. He has a look of casual indifference. There’s a cigarette dangling from his lip.
He’s a rebel. You can tell by looking at him. And because he’s a rebel…women find him kind of sexy.
But what you probably don’t know is that men are feel attracted to rebels too.
If that’s news to you, you’re not alone. According to a 2015 study[i], most women share the same misconception about what men want.
Even though women like the idea of dating a rebel, they think guys are on the prowl for conformists.
The truth is the average guy isn’t looking for a cookie-cutter girl. He wants someone who isn’t afraid to stand out.
But before you run to your closet and start tearing rips in all your jeans, consider what it is that makes rebellious guys attractive. Is it just the fact that they refuse to fit in, or is it something more?
Sure, there’s an air of excitement around the idea of dating a bad boy. But unless you’re a glutton for punishment, you don’t want to date an actual jerk. You just want to date someone who isn’t like every other boring clone out there.
Said another way, you want to date someone who is interesting and different and unique.
Guys want that, too.
But there’s a right way and a wrong way to play the part of a rebel. So, (you guessed it) I have some tips.
Women want commitment; men want freedom.
Everyone knows that.
Everyone knows women who’ve struggled to get a marriage proposal out of a long-term relationship. Everyone knows men committed to the bachelor lifestyle.
At a glance, that distinction comes across as absolutely, indisputably true.
But generalizations can be misleading.
They’re particularly misleading when they suggest there’s nothing we can do.
If he won’t commit, why bother trying to make him? If she’s only interested in a wedding ring, why lead her on?
The truth is this:
About 90% of the population ends up getting married at least once in their lives.
That’s most of us. Clearly, we figure out how to balance our competing desires for freedom and commitment.
The investment model of relationships explains how.
According to this model, four factors predict whether a relationship will last:
A relationship where both parties are satisfied, have a significant investment in the relationship, and don’t have any real romantic rivals is likely to show high degrees of commitment.
It’s their interdependence that makes a couple strong, not the depth of their feelings for one another.
Which explains why a man can love you deeply but still hold back from making a commitment. It’s because at least one of these four factors aren’t where it should be.
The beauty of this model is that it doesn’t depend on gender distinctions to explain why some relationships crumble and others go the distance.
For example, a man who has a number of beautiful women on his arm is less likely to commit because of Factor #3: Alternatives.
The more quality alternatives he perceives he has—even if it’s just the imaginary alternatives of an online dating app like Tinder—the less committed he’ll feel.
This works for women, too.
Women who have a number of men vying for their interest can afford to be choosier. They’re unlikely to commit until they’re sure they have identified the best possible option.
Factor #2, Investment, explains why men often fight to stick together just as hard as women do.
When a man has invested a lot in a relationship, he’s more likely to work at staying together even when things get tough.
A married man with a house and kids will find it harder to separate than a co-habitating man who’s never merged his finances with his girlfriend.
Divorcing couples are more likely to be childless than to have children together,  suggesting that children are one of the biggest investments a man can make in a relationship.
On the other hand, women who don’t have a lot invested in a relationship are more likely to leave if things aren’t going well. A breakup may break her heart, but it won’t break the bank.
These days, women are more likely to initiate divorce than men. The reason—at least, according to The Washington Post—is because of the third factor:
Life is too short to feel as if your soul is being suffocated, explained one woman.
As information on healthy relationships has become widely available, more and more women are realizing they don’t have to put up with dysfunctional relationships. They have the right to be happy. If they’re not as happy in their relationship as they were when they were single, they’d rather be single.
How to Use This for Enhanced Commitment
It sounds so easy:
Find someone to love, and you’ll never be lonely again.
But tell that to the many married adults who feel lonely even when their spouse is sitting right beside them.
You can be together but not feel together.
When your partner is detached, preoccupied, or busy, it’s like he doesn’t know you exist. Your attempts at connection go nowhere. You feel like a ghost hovering in the periphery, waving desperately in an attempt to be seen.
When you’re single, you expect those feelings of loneliness to come and go. When you’re in a relationship, you don’t expect to have those feelings. So they hit you harder.
But loneliness in relationships is more common than you might think. It goes hand in hand with emotional distance or drifting apart.
When the person you love more than anything acts as if he doesn’t want to be with you or pushes you away, the pain is acute. Even if he just wants a bit of space, it’s easy to start catastrophizing.
“Does he not love me anymore? Did I do something wrong? Is it all over? Has he met someone else?”
But loneliness doesn’t have to be an emergency siren, warning of a cliff ahead.
Instead, it can be a gentle wake-up call, reminding you to redouble your efforts at connection.
When a couple is young and inexperienced, it can be easy to assume that the initial flush of love is enough to last a lifetime. It’s not.
Stop making an effort, and you may be able to coast for a while … but eventually you’ll find yourself on opposite sides of the bed, with a big fat cold space in between.
Being in a relationship doesn’t guarantee you won’t ever feel lonely. All relationships, if not maintained, eventually drift apart. It takes work to stay together.
Loneliness is a wake-up call. Your relationship may not be heading towards a cliff quite yet, but it may get there if you don’t take action now to change its direction.
What should you do if you find yourself feeling lonely in your relationship?
Here are three ideas.
I’m going to start by apologizing. I’m asking you to think about something you probably don’t want to think about.
Breakups are no fun. Even if you were the one to pull the plug on the relationship, it sucks to go from being a couple to being alone.
And it doesn’t get any better with experience. It’s always miserable.
Because breakups are so unpleasant, most of us take the same approach. We try to get over them as fast as possible. It’s easiest to think about something else, try to meet someone new, or just move on.
Processing the dead relationship is the last thing we want to do.
Unfortunately, moving on too fast means you miss out on something VERY important. That’s especially true during the dark days right after a breakup.
Your girlfriends may want to get you out of the house for a night on the town, or come over with a sad movie and some Ben and Jerry’s, but trust me…
There’s a better way to process your post-breakup pain.
Researchers at Villanova University recently conducted a study all about dealing with the end of a romantic connection. Specifically, they were looking for the best ways to move on.
The simple technique they recommend is easy to do and comes with some pretty big payoffs.
You know it as one of the most basic rules of etiquette. Don’t talk politics in mixed company.
It’s the forbidden topic, right?
Don’t talk about it at the dinner table. Don’t talk about it at work. Don’t talk about it in unfamiliar company.
But can you bring it up on a date?
If politics are important to you, shouldn’t you find out where he stands? Of course, you would like to. But something holds you back. It’s the fear that you might irritate each other upon discovering divergent views, no matter how small.
But what if there was a way to support HIM without supporting his views?
Okay, so imagine this scenario. The appetizer is arriving at the table. At that moment, he makes an offhand comment about an upcoming election. It’s obvious he’s a card-carrying democrat/republican. And you are very much the opposite.
You almost choke on your drink. “Tell me you’re not a democrat/republican,” you say without thinking.
“Uh, yeah,” he says. “That’s the only way to be.”
In less than 60 seconds, the two of you are in an intense debate. Now you’re wondering if you can fit a fried cheese stick in his ear.
It’s no better in long term relationships. In some ways, it’s worse. When you’ve been with someone a while and you stumble across a severe disagreement, things can get heated.
Like, the surface of the sun heated.
The problem is if you date someone for any real length of time these kinds of topics are going to come up. There’s going to be an election. At some point, you will discuss spiritual views. You can’t avoid important things like that.
And you can’t avoid the fact that you won’t always agree.
So what do you do when you discover your partner’s deeply held convictions don’t always match yours? How do you keep that from driving a wedge between the two of you?
How do you keep the fried cheese on the plate instead of jamming it in his ear?
I know this is going to shock you, but I advocate having a plan.
Maybe you can relate to Marcy’s story.
She was at her wits end. It had been a pretty cruddy day.
She slept late that morning. Work had been…well, work. Certainly not a vacation. She missed her spin class that afternoon. And to top it off, Peter cancelled their dinner plans at the last minute. Why? To go to a game with some friends.
You’ve been there, right? He does something that makes you want to scream. But, like Marcy, you don’t scream. Instead, you call a trusted friend, meet for coffee, and indulge in an epic venting session.
Venting often feels good in the moment. But sadly, venting can make things worse in your actual relationship. In fact, research shows that it’s far more likely to intensify negative emotions in the long run. That was certainly Marcy’s experience.
As they were finishing up their conversation, Shannon gave her a hug.
“Feeling better?” she asked.
“Yes, it feels good to talk. I just wish he wasn’t such a jerk.” Even though she’d griped about Peter, she still felt upset.
But it’s not good to keep anger all bottled up inside, right? Aren’t you supposed to let it out?
That idea came from an antiquated theory of how emotions work. It started back in Sigmund Freud’s day when it was commonly believed that emotions work like hydraulics. As if an emotion was a substance that would squirt out your ears if it did not come out some other way.
But modern science has disproven that way of looking at anger and frustration. Emotions arise live, in the moment. They depend on our beliefs and perceptions.
That’s why you can be furious one moment, and suddenly happy the next when one tiny bit of information changes everything. Like you miss a flight and feel miserable about the wasted money. But then you learn the aircraft went missing somewhere over the Indian Ocean. Now you feel grateful. And it wasn’t because you “let your anger out,” about missing the flight.
Therapists no longer advise people to punch a pillow when they’re angry. Because the research shows you’re better off relaxing your muscles and thinking calming thoughts. Or writing down your options for how to respond to an upsetting situation.
You see, anger is not something you can purge. Expressing anger isn’t enough. If all you do is talk about why you’re mad, you’re just dwelling on your anger.
And, according to psychological research studies, dwelling on anger will only make you angrier. Which, ironically, SETS YOU UP for a fight with your guy instead of defusing it.
Kind of the opposite of what you want.
Fortunately, there’s a better way to deal with anger.
A guy purposefully ignores a woman who’s interested in him. You’ve seen this in romantic movies before, right?
Doing this drives her crazy. Her desire increases. She has to find a way to win his heart.
It causes her to pay a lot more attention to him. It causes her to engage in huge romantic gestures.
And finally, she wins the heart of the guy she desires.
This is not what I’m telling you to do.
Why? Because it’s a Hollywood lie.
Here’s what’s most likely to happen if you ignore the guy you like: he’ll ignore you back. Definitely not what you want.
“Playing hard to get” can turn a guy off. Especially if he has lots of other options
So you do not want to play hard to get. But you also don’t want to just fawn all over him.
Because there’s something that works better.
It comes down to human psychology and what we like. And while we are definitely attracted to people who like us, something attracts us more.
The suggestion I’m about to make is based on a study. It was conducted on college students.
How did it work? The experimenter would describe the research subject, and “accidentally” let them overhear. The experimenter described each research participant in one of four ways:
The subject got to “accidentally” hear this description. And it greatly impacted how they felt about the experimenter.
Which makes sense, right?
So which of those descriptions made subjects like the experimenter the most?
Phone calls are out. And texting is in.
We text friends. We text family members. We text work colleagues. In fact, many of us prefer texting to other forms of communication.
But some people take it too far. They text constantly. Or about things that shouldn’t be in texts. Or they avoid communicating in other ways.
This can be uncomfortable, no matter who you’re interacting with. But it’s particularly trying in a romantic relationship. Especially in the beginning.
Excessive or inappropriate texting can feel like stalking. It can make you think you’re in a relationship when you’re really not. It can allow you to say things you wouldn’t face-to-face. It can push two people apart.
That’s why I recommend setting texting boundaries early on. This way, you both know where you stand. You both know what’s okay. And what isn’t.
Boundaries make it easier to show each other respect. You know where the lines are. You don’t have to worry and wonder about doing too much. Or too little.
In other words, setting texting boundaries makes getting to know each other less stressful. Seriously.
Texting is a big part of the modern anxiety of dating. Are you responding enough? Too much? Are you saying the right things? Can he tell what you mean? How can you ask him to cool it without hurting his feelings?
Boundaries wipe all of that away. Which is why I’m going to tell you exactly which boundaries to set and how to set them.
You’ve met a sweet guy who you can’t stop thinking about. Everywhere you go, you see things that make you think of him. You even keep seeing things that you think he should own—a gorgeous tie, a funny t-shirt, a new watch…
Stop, right there!
Don’t get me wrong—guys love receiving gifts as much as most women do. After all, most men also grew up eagerly waiting for special occasions that are all about gift giving.
So what’s the catch? Traditional gender roles.
Times may be changing, but traditional gender roles still have power. Boys are allowed to get excited about gifts, but over time, they learn to be less visibly excited about the receiving part. Why?
From a young age, men are programmed to see themselves as providers. Naturally, this affects their relationship to gift receiving too.
That’s right. While most women enjoy receiving gifts—even on a first date—for most men the opposite holds true.
Picture a woman showing up with a gift on a first or even fourth date while her date stands around empty handed. Sure, a few guys might be happy to accept the gift and get on with the date, but this could also be the start of a dating disaster.
But don’t worry! A few simple tips can help you navigate the guys and gifts dilemma.
Ever heard of the “elevator pitch”?
Here’s how it works.
Business people and creative types (writers, inventors, consultants) run into someone important. Literally in an elevator.
They need to tell them about their business. Or share the basic idea of their novel. Because this person could help them.
But again – they are in an elevator. They only have a few seconds.
So an “elevator pitch” is a catchy hook. Or a quick, memorable summary. To get someone excited about you. Or your idea.
Can you see how this might be helpful in dating? You can use this idea to hook a guy’s attention for romantic reasons too.
Let me lay it out for you.
We have horrible attention spans. And they’re getting worse. In 2000, research found that the average person will pay attention for about 12 seconds.
Well, they did the study again in 2015. Guess what the number was? 8 seconds. Thanks a lot, smartphones.
Then there was a Rutgers University study. It found that people form snap judgments about others in as little as 6 seconds.
So let’s say you’re talking to a guy. Wondering how to make him think you’re interesting. Attractive. Dateable.
Sorry. Too late. He’s already decided.
You’ve missed your window of opportunity.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can make an unforgettable first impression. By crafting a personal “elevator pitch.”
And I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it.
Imagine you’re at a party. You’re visiting with a small group of people. Both men and women.
Someone makes the comment that there are a lot of things they look for in a partner, but one of them is a good sense of humor.
Who nods in agreement? The men? The women? Both?
Across the board, men and women agree. A good sense of humor is VERY important.
But research shows that men and women are actually looking for two slightly different things.[i]
As one researcher explained, while both genders value a good sense of humor, “…there’s a catch: women want a man who is funny, while men prefer a woman who finds them funny.”[ii]
In other words, men are looking for someone who sees them the way they want to see themselves. It’s part of what we men look for in a partner. Someone who validates the version of ourselves we want to be. In this case, the provider of entertainment.
Sure, we could focus on the difference between guys and girls in this specific scenario, but I’m inclined to point out something more profound.
All of us, men and women, use our partners as mirrors. We see ourselves through our partner’s eyes.
In some ways, that’s a good thing. Assuming your man admires, respects, and appreciates you, leaning on his opinion should boost your self-esteem. But there’s a downside, too.
It’s not good to be too caught up in how he sees you. When you are, your self-esteem becomes dependent on something OUTSIDE your control.
Namely, someone else’s assessment of you.
You can’t get away from seeing yourself through his eyes, and you shouldn’t try to. Naturally, you’re going to put stock in what your partner thinks of you.
Fortunately, there’s a way to take his opinion of you seriously without losing your sense of self.
So, you start dating a new guy. He’s great. Interesting, attractive, intelligent and fun. All seems well until…
You find out he’s still pretty tight with an ex.
Sure, there are situations where former partners have to maintain contact. If they share a circle of friends, have kids, or work at the same place, for example.
But these two have none of those obligations, and they’re still very close.
Like, they hang out. They talk. REALLY talk. Probably about his relationship with you. They’re downright chummy, and it kind of weirds you out.
It’s not that you’re jealous. You’re not afraid he’s cheating on you with her. If he wanted that, they’d still be dating. No, this is something else.
You don’t want to sound possessive or insecure, but you’re not cool with the connection he has with her.
And the worst part of it is you end up doubting yourself. What if you are just being clingy?
So here’s the real question. Is it okay that he still pals around with a former girlfriend?
The quick answer? Maybe. But probably not.
A recent Oakland University study actually took a close look at over 850 post-dating friendships. What these researchers discovered was kind of alarming.[i]
When men don’t talk enough, women often feel rejected.
Is there a fix to this common source of couple’s conflict?
First, let’s consider the source of the problem.
There’s a common assumption that women talk more than men—much more! But this may not be true.
First, who talks more depends a great deal on the situation.
Most studies report that women tend to talk more than men at home. In professional settings, the opposite holds true. Here, men tend to talk more than women.
But even where there are differences, the differences are minor.
So if women do not actually talk more than men, what’s the real problem?
Do you ever feel like everything else in his life comes first instead of you?
His friends. His sports teams. His gym. His phone.
It’s not like you expect his undivided attention 24-7. But it sure would be nice if once in a while you heard him say, “No, I can’t do that. I’m spending the evening with my girlfriend.”
How do you encourage him to prioritize your relationship, when there are so many other things competing for his attention?
Good question. But to understand the answer, let’s take a look at one difference between men and women.
You see, relationships occupy a different role in men’s lives than they do in women’s.
Relationships keep men grounded. A man feels secure knowing he can go out in the world to do battle since someone will be waiting for him when he returns.
But, to be successful, he can’t linger too long over thoughts of his lover. He has to muster all his focus, courage, and energy for the challenge at hand. When he fights, he fights alone. That’s because the male mind is compartmentalized.
Love is important to a man. But love won’t keep him at home.
For women, love is home. When a woman is in love, she takes thoughts of her lover with her everywhere she goes.
Love releases energy that makes all her daily activities feel less overwhelming, less effortful. It’s the energy of love she carries with her all day long.
It’s hard to see, then, why men would compartmentalize their relationships when love is such a powerful, positive, and pervasive influence in your own life. But men do compartmentalize love. And that’s very important to understand.
You might picture the different areas of a man’s life as balls he’s trying to juggle. His friends are one ball, his work another, romance another. A man arranges his life by juggling the balls.
You might be with a man who has a short attention span. Whichever ball falls into his hands is the one that gets all his attention. But then it’s time to throw that ball back into the air and catch the next one. He jumps from one focus to another, unable to prioritize.
So what can you do?
One of our biggest fears is giving our love to someone who betrays our trust.
It’s probably already happened to you. It happens to most of us over the course of a lifetime.
For some, the lesson is etched in memory. They never fully trust anyone again, not like they did before. They can’t bear the thought of going through that again.
Whether it was a divorce, a lie, an affair, or a broken promise, the people we love can betray us in a thousand different ways.
Some betrayals are like paper cuts that sting badly at the time but heal. Other betrayals cut us in half.
How can you keep yourself from being deceived, walked all over, or taken advantage of?
How can you stay safe when you give your heart away?
Here are some ideas.
#1. Don’t give him your trust right away.
Falling in love sweeps you off your feet. When you’re in love, you’re in a different reality. Everything is beautiful; everything is right. Those rose-tinted glasses transform him from just another guy into your beloved, a knight and a hero among men.
But new love is a form of intoxication. Chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine, and PEA cloud your senses. You can’t see your beloved clearly until the honeymoon period has worn off. Until then, you’ll only see the best in him.
Nature designed us that way for a reason. Ideally, the intense bond of new lovers keeps them together long enough to raise a child to toddlerhood and ensure the continuation of the species.
But these days we’re not as interested in passing on our genes as we are in finding a compatible mate. Those rose-colored glasses distort reality just enough that we can’t be confident that who we see is who our beloved really is.
There’s a simple remedy:
Allow for the distortion.
Recognize that you are seeing him at his best. You’re in love; that’s how it works! Don’t give him all your trust right away, no matter how passionate you feel. Take it slowly. Wait until your vision has cleared before trusting him with the big things.
You’ll know that you’re seeing him more realistically when you start to see his bad points as well as the good. He’s not perfect. You don’t think alike on everything. You’re going to argue sometimes.
The end of the honeymoon period can feel like a bucket of cold water dumped on your head, but that bucket of cold water also wakes you up. It’s a shock, but it’s necessary. You’ve got to see the truth about one another eventually.
In the harsh light of day, you’ll find that you can trust him on some things and not others. You can trust him to be faithful and care about you, but maybe not to balance his checkbook or pick up the right groceries. And that’s fair enough. Trust should be realistic.
#2. Don’t trust a man more than he respects you.
In today’s world, both men and women have to work harder than ever before to get ahead.
It can seem like you don’t have time for a relationship. And spending the time to find the right someone? Forget about it.
But what if you didn’t have to separate the two things? What if you could further your career while seeking out potential partners?
People have been meeting romantic partners at work for decades.
In fact, just under 18% of current couples met at work according to a recent survey. Even better, a separate study found that 14% of couples who met through work ended up married. This is compared to the 11% who married after meeting through friends.
But if you work in an office, I’m assuming you’ve already tried that route. My suggestion is different – keep an eye open for potential partners at business conventions.
Here’s why you might have more success.
Have you ever tried to tell your guy something without actually telling him?
Maybe you wanted a specific gift for your birthday, but didn’t want to come right out and say it. Or you were stuck in an awkward social situation, and wanted him to bail you out. Or you might have been upset, thinking he could surely tell something was off.
Sometimes he picks up what you’re laying down. Other times, he’s blissfully unaware.
There’s actually a good reason why he may not catch your subtle clues.
The reason has nothing to do with whether or not he genuinely cares. It’s not a gauge of his commitment. It’s not even an accurate measure of whether or not he’s the sensitive type.
Nope, it’s genetic differences, pure and simple. It all comes down to the way his brain is wired.
That’s because the male brain is not like the female brain. There are differences in our chemistry, activity, structure, and even blood flow. So how he thinks is sometimes different from how you think.
And sometimes that difference will make it really hard for him to take a hint.
One of the epic differences between male brains and female brains is how we use grey and white matter.[i]
Grey matter is for super-charged focus. It gives you the ability to block out distractions and stay on task. Guys’ brains are naturally good at this, but it comes with a downside.
As one researcher put it, “Once [men] are deeply engaged in a task or game, they may not demonstrate much sensitivity to other people or their surroundings.”
White matter, on the other hand, is for networking. I’m not talking about LinkedIn or Facebook. I mean networking within your mind.
This is where women have an edge.
The different parts of your brain “talk” to each other using white matter. Like, for example, when you multi-task. White matter also helps you notice other stuff going on, even when you’re focused.
You can see the potential problem, right? He’s great at maintaining a single focus, but he may not be as perceptive as you.
All those super clear signals you’re sending? Yeah, he’s probably missing a lot of them.
So one of the best things you can do for your communication with your guy is to stop dropping hints. Instead, TALK to him.
Here are a couple of pointers for making your conversations as productive as possible.
Dating is like a masquerade ball.
You know the ones where everyone holds those masks on a stick? The identity of the ball-goers is a mystery. No one reveals their true face until they’re ready.
Masks tell us a lot. They show us how a person wants to be perceived. And that’s almost as revealing as knowing what the person is really like beneath.
These days, your “mask” is more likely to be an online profile than a patch of fabric and feathers. But that doesn’t make it any less significant. Masks make us feel comfortable. They’re one way we can control how others see us.
But there’s a problem:
You can’t get close to someone with your mask on.
You can’t kiss through a mask. You’ve got to take it off if you want to know and be known intimately by another.
That big reveal is a pinnacle moment in a relationship.
It’s when he sees who you really are, underneath the identity you’ve carefully crafted for yourself. And it’s just as big for him. He’s been wearing his own mask.
Will you still feel the same about one another, once the masks are off?
In a minute, we’ll look at ways to ensure his feelings for you don’t waver.
But first, you might wonder whether you should be wearing a mask at all. Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone was honest about their faults and failings from the get-go?
The answer, surprisingly, is no.
Masks work. Nothing is more important than that first impression. It takes him a tenth of a second to sum you up, and that first impression is likely to last.
There’s a point to the masquerade. Illusion and mystery add to the fun.
If everyone else is wearing fanciful masks and elaborate gowns, you could show up in jeans and sneakers. But why not play along?
Even Cinderella made sure she was dressed appropriately for the ball. As a result, her prince refused to doubt his first impressions. The woman on his arm was clad like a princess, so a princess she was. He refused to believe otherwise, even when confronted by iron-clad evidence that his “princess” was actually a scullery maid.
Don’t feel guilty for wearing a mask. It’s all part of the game.
Even at masquerade balls, everyone knows the masks will come off at some point. They expect it.
Similarly, when you’re dating, you can be sure he knows you’re wearing a mask. At some point, he expects to see beneath it and discover the real you. It’s not going to come as a huge shock. None of us are perfect. We all have things to hide. He just hopes that it won’t be anything serious.
But when should you do it?
Nearly two decades ago, Jack Nicholson handed generations of men a line that actually worked.
“You make me want to be a better man,” he told Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets.
It’s impossible not to respond to a line like that, if spoken honestly. Is there any greater compliment? You inspire him to be a better person, to be worthy of your love. Even if things don’t work out, you’ll always know you changed his life. You changed him.
But why does that line work so well?
What does science have to say about the relationship between love and self-improvement?
Quite a lot, it turns out.
Relationships help us grow as people. We learn to communicate and compromise. We learn to give and receive love. We negotiate the delicate balance between self-care and service.
And we also become bigger people, through a process called self-expansion.
In everyday life, we tend to think that who we are stops at the boundary of the body. This is me, and everything else is not me.
If we look more closely, we realize that’s not true. Psychologically, we are defined by our relationships. We embrace those we love as part of who we are. We wouldn’t be who we are today without our friends and family, who’ve shaped what we like and how we think.
The same goes for our romantic relationships.
Think about the last time you fell in love. Chances are, you felt as if you were merging into your beloved as if you were no longer two separate people but rather one. Falling in love helps dissolve the boundary between self and other, thereby expanding our sense of who we are.
That feeling of self-expansion is so important that it can make or break relationships.
Smile. Make eye contact. Tilt your head toward him. Touch your hair. Touch him.
Physical cues are important in getting a guy to pay attention to you. That’s not news. Head to any dating advice site. You’ll find tons of tips about the exact things I mention above.
Or better yet, go through my mini-course on this topic, designed by Amy Waterman. She’s already done the work for you, condensing all the best ideas into one short video course currently available on my website.
Studies have shown that our actual words make up only 7% of how we communicate. The other 93%?
That’s right – physical cues. So you should definitely study up on the ones that work.
But is that it?
Are those all of the ways you can use your body to tell him you’re interested? Nope.
There are four lesser-known physical cues you can use as well. You won’t find as much info on them – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.
In fact, using them can make you stand out in a crowd since they aren’t as well-known!
So what are they?
If you’re a woman who loves watching sports, consider yourself lucky. If not, you’re in the majority and probably already know what it feels like to be on the sidelines.
Let’s start with a typical worst-case scenario.
It’s the six-month anniversary of your first date with a terrific guy. You’re looking forward to a romantic evening out…or at least you were.
Since you don’t follow professional sports, you have no idea that your six-month anniversary happens to be falling in the middle of the [insert the name of any sports league here] finals.
On your anniversary, Team X will be facing off with Team Y. Who cares? Think again.
The terrific guy you’ve been dating for the past six months grew up in Team Y’s hometown and has been following the team since kindergarten. To put it mildly, he’s a huge fan. But when he gets together with the guys to watch the game, it’s about more than sports.
Okay, you’re skeptical. Sports are sports whether you’re talking about football or hockey, right? Not quite.
There’s a trick to being happy in dating.
Actually, this trick works for any relationship at any stage. You can use it with your family, friends, coworkers, boss, and yes, your partner. If you learn how to do this one thing, I can promise you every relationship in your life will be better.
But there’s a catch.
It’s a bit counter-intuitive. Enough so that you may disagree with me when I tell you. All I ask is that you give me the rest of this article. I think you’ll come around.
So what is this trick? Simple. Be selfish.
You’re finally dating a guy who all your friends simply refer to as “a great catch.” He’s smart, funny, attractive and totally sane.
But there is one problem—he’s a dad.
Look, I know you have no problem with dads or kids. But this does complicate things.
It complicates things because this “great catch” is in a joint custody situation. And he’s often busy. As a father, he’s sometimes completely unavailable.
And to make matters worse, his ex-wife may be someone you have to deal with on occasion. She might even show up when the kids are with her…at a moment when you thought you had “dad” to yourself. Like in a situation where she needs to look for a missing shoe and homework assignment one of the kids left at his place.
So naturally, you’re asking yourself, can I handle this? Am I ready to date a dad?
Unless you’re restricting your dating prospects to men under 30, chances are, you may end up dating a dad at some point.
In 2013, an estimated 17 percent of single parents were men. That’s equivalent to 2 million men nationwide.
There are also many reasons why single dads are a great catch.
First, caring for another human being changes people. A dad has less time to make small problems the focus of his attention. So he may be more accepting and less interested in arguing over little things.
Caring for another human being also teaches patience. Parents understand that everyone does things at a different pace.
Finally, caring for another human being puts things into perspective. Parents know that no one needs to spend $150 on a bottle of champagne to celebrate a milestone. Parents find joy in all sorts of places.
So what’s the upshot of dating a dad?
Dating a dad gives you a chance to date a guy with greater emotional depth—a guy who knows who he is, what he wants, and how to give back.
Okay, so you’ve decided that you’re into this idea. You’re going to date a dad.
But how do you make this work? The following ground rules can help—
“I feel like I’m invisible when I’m around him.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a woman tell me something like that.
You really like a guy. You want him to notice you. But when you’re near him, it’s like you’re part of the wallpaper. His eyes seem to pass right over you. You might as well be invisible.
It makes you feel unwanted. Unattractive.
The experience can make you want to hide. It can make you want to give up on the guy you like.
But don’t blame him. And don’t blame yourself. Instead, blame your clothes.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Clothes make the man.”
Well, what about women? Can wearing the right clothes really make a guy interested in you?
Absolutely. And I’m not talking about clothing options that might make you blush either!
It also doesn’t mean you have to give up your fashion sense. After all, that’s part of who you are.
But what if I told you that you could easily incorporate two scientifically-proven tricks?
Anna is an attractive and fit woman in her mid-30s. She describes most of her dating experiences as “very positive” and is currently engaged to a great guy. Okay, what’s her secret?
Anna says her secret to success is that she loves great food, and she loves to eat.
“I’ve never been afraid to go out on a date and order a huge steak. Well, if that’s what I’m craving at the time,” says Anna. “It may sound crazy, but a lot of guys love that.”
It’s true. Many men agree that finding a woman who is actually willing to eat on a date—even a first date—is a rare but welcome find.
Chris, a 42-year-old personal trainer, explains why. “I spend my entire day in a gym. If I go on a dinner date after work, I want to eat an actual meal, but few women are willing to join me.”
How does this make Chris feel? In a word, it makes him feel disappointed. “If I order a salad and main course and my date only orders a salad, I feel like we’re not really connecting.”
Okay, but do women really eat less when attempting to attract a man, or is this just a myth?
Research suggests that it’s true—women eat less when attempting to attract men.
There’s a myth that men are attracted to bad girls.
And they kind of are.
I say “kind of” because the myth is both true and false. Guys are attracted to the idea of dating a bad girl. That part is absolutely true. Bad girls represent adventure, strength, and excitement.
But research shows that while men like the idea of dating a bad girl, they actually prefer the reality of dating someone more mature.[i] Someone who genuinely cares about them. Someone who is tuned into their emotional needs.
But could you have the best of both worlds? You’re not a bad girl. In fact, you’re invested in being a well-balanced, mature adult. That’s why you read stuff like this. To invest in better relationships.
The answer lies in understanding what guys really like. Not bad girls, but a few of the qualities they think bad girls represent.[ii]
And guess what? You don’t have to be a bad girl to embrace those qualities.
Bad girls represent adventure.
Guys think of bad girls as the kind of women who are willing to try anything once.
They’re not afraid to experience something new or different. They don’t mind getting their hands dirty. They’re comfortable in a cocktail dress and heels, or grungy jeans and sneakers.
What the man in your life really wants to know is that when he feels the need to track down a new adventure, you won’t hold him back.
And if you’re willing to hit the trail with him, even better.
Here is the next quality men find attractive in a bad girl: strength.
Jenn felt something was off as soon as she saw Steve’s face.
She and Steve had been dating for a few months. And he was usually a pretty chipper guy, but not tonight.
“You okay?” she asked.
“Everything fine at work?”
“You seem tense,” she said.
Was it something I did? She wondered. This isn’t like him. He doesn’t even seem happy to see me. There goes the spark…
And before long, she had this elaborate theory. Maybe Steve’s lack of enthusiasm meant the relationship’s honeymoon phase was over. Kaput. Done.
Is that what was really going on?
No. Of course not. Like everyone else, there was a lot more on Steve’s plate that day than just dinner with Jenn.
He was stressed about a project at work. One of his co-workers threw him under the bus in front of his boss. To top it off, his sister was micro-managing the plans for his parents’ anniversary party. He had plenty to stress out about.
And here’s the kicker. None of it had anything to do with Jenn.
Your guy may not always be upbeat when you’re around him. He might even be down enough that there are times when it feels like he’s less invested in the relationship. But there’s something critical you need to remember.
He has TONS of other stuff going on in his life. His mood isn’t always about you.
That doesn’t mean you’re not important. Neither does it mean he’s not into you anymore. All it means is that, like yours, his life is full of distractions and potential hassles. A bad day is bound to come along every now and then.
When he has a bad day, there’s one really important thing you need to keep in mind. It’s not your job to regulate his mood.
Men are so slow.
Slow to ask for your number. Slow to ask you out. Slow to get married.
eHarmony calls them “snail males,” and for good reason. You could grow Rapunzel hair in the eternity it takes him to make a move.
It doesn’t help that you’re sitting in the passenger seat. Making the first move puts you at risk of putting him off. But there are other ways to speed a man up without kicking him out of the driver’s seat.
Here are three ideas.
When you’re waiting, waiting and waiting some more, weeks can feel like years. So don’t wait for him to make a move. If he’s not calling and asking you out, make your own fun.
Pick up the newspaper and find out if there’s anything interesting going on. Organize a movie night, a barbecue, a picnic in the park. Invite everyone along, even casual acquaintances. Of course, he can come too. If he can get off his glacier.
Making your own fun has several advantages.
(1) It gives you social credibility. It takes effort to make something happen. Sure, sometimes the event won’t happen, or just one or two people will show up, but people will still recognize you and appreciate you for trying.
(2) It keeps you from obsessing over him. You don’t need a man to have a great time. The more fun you’re having without him, the more he’s missing.
(3) You can ask him out without asking him out. There’s nothing forward about inviting a single attractive man along to a group outing. You’re not asking him out. You’re just letting him know about something he might enjoy attending.
The fastest way to speed up a snail male is to give him no greater commitment than he’s giving you.
If he won’t confirm that you’re boyfriend and girlfriend, then don’t treat him like a boyfriend. Don’t reserve your weekends for him. Don’t drop by with special gifts of your free time. Instead, actively date or spend time with other people.
If he wants to have some space in the relationship, then take some space yourself. He doesn’t get your commitment until he’s committed to you. More importantly, he should know that he doesn’t get forever with you if “forever” is not in his vocabulary.
Have you ever tried really hard to ensure he has a good time with you…
Hoping it would make him more serious about you?
It doesn’t work. At least, not very well.
It doesn’t work because the desire to have fun is not the same thing as the desire to commit. They come from different places in a man’s heart. A man can really enjoy being with a fun woman but still not want to commit his future to her.
To get serious about a woman, a man has to snap out of “fun mode” and snap into a different mode. It takes more than a good time to trigger his desire to commit.
In the early stages of dating, you have two goals:
You want to see if you can have fun together, and you want to get to know one another.
So you go out together. You talk. You see how fun it is to be together. You learn how much you have in common.
That’s enough for a casual relationship. But it’s not enough for a serious relationship.
Before you can get serious, you need to know something else:
“Can we work alongside one another?”
Work is the polar opposite to play. You could say it’s the opposite of dating.
Dates are all about having fun. They’re like mini-vacations from everyday life. Dates don’t get bogged down in problems and crises and deadlines.
Dates are not anything like real life. Real life is as much work as play. Maybe more.
But work isn’t bad. We need work in order to thrive. Heck, even paradise includes work in the equation for happiness. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had work to do. We enjoy life more when we have a purpose.
Although it would be nice if relationships could hang out in date-world forever, they have to descend to reality at some point. When they do, they need to work.
Let me show you how to use this to your advantage.
Have you heard of the “seduction community?”
Even if you haven’t, there’s a good chance the guy you’re dating has. But here’s the real question …Is he using those methods on you?
Maybe you want to be seduced. After all, it sounds kind of romantic. Why wouldn’t a guy work hard to seduce you. Shouldn’t you want him to?
Well, I’ll leave that decision to you after you’ve read what I’m about to tell you. As your dating and relationship coach, I feel an obligation to shed light on a potentially dangerous situation.
You need to know what male dating coaches are teaching men about dating women. Some of it’s good, old-fashioned, sound advice. But some of it has the potential to block any kind of real relationship from developing.
And that’s why I’m about to show you some of the dangerous stuff guys are being taught about women. To do that, I’ve brought in my friend, Amy Waterman, who has seen the inside operations of the seduction community.
She’ll open your eyes to the dangers you need to watch out for. And she’ll show you how to turn these misguided men toward healthy modes of interaction with you.
Here’s the special report from Amy…
Back in a previous life, I studied men’s dating advice.
I knew all the guys teaching other men how to get good with women. I bumped into the legendary David DeAngelo from Double Your Dating at a conference in L.A. I went to lunch with Neil Strauss, AKA the pickup artist known as Style.
I was on Skype interviewing Carlos Xuma, David Wygant, Zan Perrion, Dave M and endless others.
I knew exactly what the world’s top dating coaches were teaching men.
And I hated it.
Men aren’t any different from us. They want to perfect their dating technique, too. So they’re also reaching out to dating coaches and experts for advice.
But the advice they’re being given may shock you.
John Gray claimed we’re from different planets. When you look at what men are teaching other men about women, you might begin to agree. We can’t be from the same species.
Professionals in the field of psychology, including practicing counselors, don’t teach one thing to men and something else to women. Relationship skills are relationship skills.
So why is there such a vast gulf between the popular dating advice being given to men and women?
Both camps want their clients to get results, but how they define those results is completely different.
The dating advice given by self-styled gurus comes from experience, not theory.
Men teach other men what works in their experience. They’re not coming from a background in psychology or science. They’re not committed to a professional code of ethics. They just want to get results. For most of them, “results” can only mean one thing:
A notch on the bedpost.
When you begin to look seriously into what men are learning about women, you realize that “getting the girl” does not mean the same thing to a man that “getting the guy” means to you.
For women, “getting a guy” tends to mean finding someone for a committed long-term relationship.
For men, “getting a girl” usually refers to getting her into bed.
Of course not all men prefer one night stands to relationships. Not all women prefer a committed relationship to just having fun.
But a lot of popular dating advice tars everyone with the same brush. Men want just one thing. Women only want a ring. Political correctness doesn’t come into it.
Men’s dating advice is having a HUGE impact on what men expect from their encounters with women. It’s affecting how men behave and what they believe about you.
You need to know what men are teaching men about women.
And you need to know what to do if you fall for a guy who’s learned his techniques from professionals.
Are you ready to find out how men are learning how to play the dating game?
Be warned. It’s not comfortable.
Would you rather be the “cool chick” or the silly one?
For many women, there’s no contest. Cool rules.
It all goes back to the halls of high school, where many of us learned how relationships work. Showing any emotion, whether shrieking with joy or bursting into tears, earned the same shaming stare.
The only safe place was that indifferent zone of complete unconcern about anything. Don’t feel. No one can bother you that way.
Then we grew up. We took the code of cool into our adult relationships.
Don’t let him know you like him, or you’ll put him off.
Don’t get too excited, or you’ll jinx it.
Don’t be too enthusiastic, or he’ll think you’re crazy.
No wonder so many first dates are boring. Both people are afraid to show how they really feel. They’re trying to do everything right. They’re trying to pretend they don’t care how the date turns out.
And they’re keeping their emotions tamped down so tightly there’s no air left to breathe.
It doesn’t help that mainstream dating advice warns against letting him know your true feelings. To be mysterious, you’ve got to stay cool. You’ve got to stay in control. Everything must be calculated to present yourself in the best possible light.
But then there are those darn rom-coms.
Romantic comedies present a different possibility for falling in love.
They suggest that you can make mistakes, do really stupid things, be goofy—ridiculous, even—and you’ll still be irresistible to the right guy.
Which is right?
Must you stay cool and mysterious? Or can you let your silly side show?
It all depends on trust.
A man can easily be attracted to a cool and mysterious woman. But if she holds herself back indefinitely, he’s not going to offer her a ring; he’s going to go find himself someone with warmth and humanity.
Someone has to be the first to let their guard down. It’s safer if you wait for him. But it’s more courageous to be the first.
Online dating is just marketing.
Of course, I’m talking about the very first stage of interaction. The stage where you grab a man’s attention.
The better you are at marketing a product, the better you do. And in this case, the “product” is the opportunity to meet you or get to know you.
Just remember, your online profile is not you. It’s just an advertisement designed to spark interest in getting to know you.
Taking a marketing approach to online dating can pay off hugely. It takes the stress off. You get more hits. You waste less time on guys who aren’t going to “make the sale,” e.g. meet you in person.
So how does it work?
Think about the ads that catch your attention. Good ads can be funny, inspirational, or beautiful. They stand out. They stick in your head. That’s your goal with your profile.
Every ad has three main components: images, headlines, and the body of the ad.
It’s the same in online dating. You have the photograph that illustrates the product (you), a headline designed to catch attention, and space to describe who you are and what you’re looking for.
Images are the most important component of your profile. If your time is limited, spend 90% of your time on the pictures and the other 10% filling out the text.
The best photographs give an insight into your personality and make the viewer curious about you. Always edit your images before uploading. A good photo editing program can make almost any image look intriguing through the use of cropping or filters.
The headline, which in most cases is your “handle” or nickname, should also create curiosity. Don’t go for the straight undiluted truth. Choose a catchy nickname that compels the viewer to find out more about you.
Lastly, the body of the ad—your personal description—should be short, sweet, and intriguing. Don’t just list personality traits. Take the opportunity to show the viewer what he could expect if he went on a date with you. What would he like best about being with you? What makes you fun? How would you be different from the other women he’s met?
The first sentence of your description is the most important, so spend most of your time crafting the ideal intro. Don’t feel concerned about explaining who you are in such a short space. He’ll learn who you are when he meets you. The goal of the profile is to get him interested enough in you to make contact.
If you’re not getting the hits you want, then don’t jump to conclusions. This isn’t about you. Men aren’t rejecting you as a person. They can’t, because they don’t even know you! They’re simply not interested in your ad.
It’s the profile that’s under performing, not you. So fix it.
How? Test specific changes.
It’s a mystery why men pick one woman to marry over all the others.
Some men go through one amazing girlfriend after another. It never works out. Then one day he meets someone, and that’s it. He’s ready to pop the question.
What makes her different from all the other women he’s been with?
From outside the relationship, it’s hard to see. If you compare this woman to his previous girlfriends, you might not see much of a difference. In fact, his fiancé may seem to have less going for her. Outsiders might think he picked the wrong girl.
But he didn’t.
Here’s a little-known insight about dating:
When it comes to marriage, a man’s aim is not to find the best girl out of all the girls he’s dated. Instead, his goal is to find the best relationship.
That distinction is crucial.
We don’t pick a person. We pick the relationship we have with that person.
Love is not like judging a beauty pageant. A man doesn’t sit there and watch women parade by, assessing their qualities on a scorecard and asking out the winner.
Love is an experience. It unfolds as two people come together and interact with one another over time.
Think of it like a chemical reaction. You could pick your best two chemicals and mix them together, hoping for a favorable reaction. But you’d have better luck testing various combinations until you found your desired reaction.
That’s why we date.
We date to experience what it’s like to be with different people. We learn what we like and what we don’t like.
In the end, we come to understand that the objective qualities of a person matter less than how we feel when we’re together.
So how can you make a man feel hooked from the moment you meet?
Here are three ideas.
He needs you.
He may act like he has it together, but he doesn’t know what he’d do without you.
You supply his unspoken needs. Because you do what you do, he doesn’t have to admit he could use some support. He can maintain the illusion of being self-sufficient.
You are there for him. And he is grateful.
Men don’t always talk about their needs as freely as women do.
For many men, admitting they even have needs is difficult. They’ve been raised to act tough and need no one. Being needy is tantamount to being a wuss.
That’s why relationships are so important for men: they give men what they can’t get anywhere else.
Men are healthier in relationships, both physically and emotionally. Once married, men engage in less reckless behaviors, take better care of themselves, and even earn more money.
Here are just some of the things you do for him, perhaps without fully realizing it:
But there’s one little hiccup in this rosy scenario…
Does he ever tell you exactly what his needs are?
Or do you find yourself guessing most of the time?
Perhaps you’ve had the experience of asking your guy if there’s anything you can do for him. He shakes his head. “Nope, nothing. I’m fine.”
It’s like pulling teeth to get him to talk about what he needs from you.
So here’s a different way of going about it.
It takes seven seconds to make a first impression.[i]
You heard me right. Seven seconds. We size up other people in a fraction of the time it takes to brush our teeth!
And first impressions are powerful. They’re so powerful that they rarely change. Basically, you get one shot. Blow it, and you’re far less likely to make a connection. A failed first impression will end your chances with a guy before you’ve even had time to start a conversation.
In seven seconds, we decide if the other person is someone we want to know better or someone we’d rather just forget.
No pressure, right?
Actually, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Nailing a first impression isn’t that hard. In fact, you only need one trick up your sleeve.
There’s a whole science behind how we make first impressions. After more than a decade of research, psychologists have discovered that one characteristic influences first impressions more than any other.
When two people meet, the first question they ask about the other is, “Can I trust you?”[ii]
If you’re surprised by that, you’re not alone. A lot of people assume that confidence is the key, especially when it comes to dating.
Here’s the funny thing about that. People who project confidence without seeming trustworthy are typically disliked. Instead of being approachable, they look arrogant.
If you want to give a good first impression, you have to project a sense of trustworthiness before anything else.
Curiosity is powerful. Especially in relationships.
What happens when you cultivate a deep sense of curiosity about the people you interact with?
Well, let me ask you, have you ever talked to a psychic? I don’t mean a real psychic, or even a money-grubby fake. I mean a regular person who is constantly convinced they know what you’re thinking and feeling before you’ve told them.
I’ve had a few friends like that. Talking to one of them about something important is an exercise in frustration. As soon as I’m done describing a dilemma or challenge, they start telling me what they think I’m “actually feeling.” Then, under the false impression they’re helping, they push me to explore “the real issue.”
Most of the time they don’t even have a firm understanding of what’s going on, and they are almost never right about my feelings. How could they be? They haven’t taken the time to listen.
But when you’re close to someone, it’s easy to fall into that trap.
All of us develop the ability to “read” the people we interact with daily, like our partners, close friends, and family. The more time you spend with someone, the more natural it feels to “predict” their feelings based on what you know about them.
So when your best friend has had another bad date or your partner’s boss has irritated him again, the temptation is to assume it’s the same song, new verse.
We’ve heard it before, we tell ourselves. So we assume we already know what’s going on. But there are two major flaws with that assumption.
The first is this. There’s no guarantee you’re right.
The only way to know where another person is coming from is to hear them out. Handing out advice or opinions without all the information is a surefire way to derail communication.
It’s much better to listen first.
But what about the times you are right? Is it okay to play the mind-reader then?
Relationships get boring.
It’s inevitable. You’re with the same person. You do the same things.
And that’s exactly what you wanted when you got together. Security. Stability. No nasty surprises.
But our craving for constancy comes at a very big price:
We give up novelty.
We get just one person. One relationship. No refunds or exchanges.
Imagine having to give up every outfit in your wardrobe but one. You can pick your favorite outfit, but you have to wear it every day. How do you think you’ll feel in a week? Will you still love it as much as you did when you chose it?
Human beings crave novelty just as much as they crave constancy.
We want things to be the same but different. We want what we’ve always had, but we also want what we’ve never tried.
The pleasure of novelty is obvious in the beginning of a relationship when everything is new and wonderful.
For many couples, it will never be that exciting again. Even their tenth wedding anniversary can’t compare to that first date when they were both so nervous and excited and hopeful.
It’s the same way with clothes. You might even say that your pleasure in a new outfit declines from the moment you plunk down your credit card to pay for it. Now it’s just another garment hanging in your closet. The novelty is gone.
Relationships must find the perfect balance between the poles of constancy and novelty. Go too far one way, and it gets boring. Go too far the other way, and it becomes unpredictable.
How can you maintain that balance? Here are three suggestions.
Most of us would assume these questions have nothing to do with one another.
After all, how you feel at this very moment is irrelevant to how you think you’ll feel about your boyfriend in a year. Right?
A classic study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people report greater satisfaction with their lives when the weather is nice or when they’ve been thinking about something happy.
As everyone on vacation knows, life looks better when it’s sunny and hot.
How we feel right now also affects how we think we’ll feel about the future.
If someone interviewed you right after you’d had a particularly nasty argument with your boyfriend, you’d probably express serious doubts about your long-term compatibility. Spend the rest of your life with this monkey? Not likely.
But if someone interviewed you right after a Valentine’s Day in which your boyfriend pulled out all the stops, you’d probably have a decent idea about what style of wedding dress you want and how many guests you’ll invite.
Knowing this gives us some fairly important information about what not to do in relationships.
Don’t decide to marry your partner on the spur of a moment, just because you’ve had the most amazing weekend away with him.
Don’t break up in the middle of an argument, just because he’s made you mad.
In fact, try to avoid making any long-term decisions when you’re in the midst of strong emotions, because how you feel in the moment could prejudice your view of the future.
And feel free to use this psychological trick on him.
If you want to ask him something that involves a future commitment, wait to ask until he’s in a stellar mood. The better he feels, the more likely he is to say yes.
(All children know this trick. They save their big requests for when Mommy and Daddy are in a good mood.)
But there’s something else I need to show you. How we feel about the present also affects how we feel about the past. Let me point out why this matters in your relationship.
Some couples look so good on Facebook.
You know they’re happy.
They post sweet little comments on each other’s pages. They’re snuggled tight in their profile pics. Each time they go off to the beach or the mountains, a photo slideshow pops up the next day.
It’s enough to drive anyone jealous.
The worst thing is, researchers confirm that couples who look good on Facebook are probably happy in real life, too.
Couples who go official on Facebook are more likely to be satisfied in their relationship than couples who prefer to keep their relationship status private. It’s true: when you’re in love, you want the whole world to know.
Researchers can even predict the strength of a relationship from examining Facebook profiles. They look for clues like couple photos, affectionate comments, and a coupled-up relationship status.
But there’s one little problem…
Facebook can expose the cracks in a relationship, too.
Couples counselors and divorce lawyers are well acquainted with the havoc Facebook makes of relationships.
It often starts when an ex or a former flame makes a friend request. You don’t think anything of it. After all, it was so long ago, and you’re keen to find out what they’re doing now. But your significant other notices. Jealous creeps in. Arguments ensue.
Before social media arrived on the scene, it wasn’t always easy to avoid an ex, but it certainly wasn’t impossible. Once you got into a new relationship, you knew to delete your ex’s contact details and throw out all old memorabilia—or at least hide it in a box in the back of the closet. You didn’t shove your past in your new boyfriend’s face.
But if happy couples post photos of each other on Facebook, what happens when they decide to go their separate ways?
The photographic evidence remains … unto eternity.
Once relationships have gone public on social media, they’re incredibly difficult to erase.
You could delete all your pictures of each other and ask him to do the same, but what if a friend took pictures of the two of you and tagged both your names? What about all those lovey-dovey posts dating back years?
Luckily, Facebook now offers the ability to untag yourself. But exes emerging from a long-term relationship still face a mountain of work to clear themselves from association with one another.
It’s a no-win situation:
Couples who go public on social media reap the rewards of greater relationship satisfaction. But if they ever split, they face being reminded of the past at every turn, which could dampen the fun of any new relationship.
It’s up to you to close the doors on the past. Don’t give past relationships a second life by leaving their ghosts online.
Here are three tips specific to Facebook.
A wonderful woman came to me one day and said,
“James, I want you to fix me.”
I was taken aback. She explained:
“I want you to tell me everything I’m doing wrong. I want to know the right way to do it. I’ll change, and then I’ll finally meet the right man. I just know everything will work out once I know what’s wrong with me.”
I sat in silence for a moment. This woman was attractive, friendly, and confident. She had a decent career and good people skills.
“Okay,” I said. “Tell me what you think is wrong with you.”
She pulled out a list. She’d had it since New Year’s Eve, when she spent a few hours thinking hard about her life and what was stopping her from having the life she wanted.
She read it out loud to me. The list included being too nice, too talkative, too naïve, and falling in love too fast. She also considered it a problem that she was too heavy around the hips and thighs, was starting to show her age and didn’t know how to dress for dates.
“Can you fix me?” she asked again. “I’m tired of going through life like this.”
“No,” I said.
She looked shocked. “But why? Am I too far gone?”
Then I told her what I’m going to tell you now.
Each flaw we think we have is a beautiful imperfection.
Brené Brown has a wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, in which she writes that wholehearted living requires us to stand up and proclaim:
“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
We often think we must fix every place we are imperfect or broken to stand a chance at love. Men are no different. We all want to hide the places we feel vulnerable so that the opposite sex only sees the shine and polish of a perfect potential mate.
The ironic thing is…
It is those places in which we are vulnerable, imperfect or wounded that endear us to the right mate.
Imperfection is endearing. It’s beautiful in its own way. The Japanese have a phrase for it: “wabi sabi,” or the beauty of that which is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Bad relationship advice is everywhere.
Not too long ago, I read an article[i] in a well-known women’s magazine that was full of shady suggestions. Here’s one of the worst.
The writer claimed you should never have to ask how to stoke the passion in your love life. “Really, really good relationships” are always spicy, she claimed. “If you’re not seeing fireworks every time he walks into the room, it might be time to move on.”
There’s only one time a lack of passion is a red flag—right at the beginning of a relationship. If there’s no spark while you’re getting to know him, maybe he’s not the guy for you.
But if you’ve been with someone a while, there are going to be lulls. It’s inevitable. A dip in passion doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed.
Keeping the passion alive takes work.
As you get comfortable in your relationship, it’s easy to slack off a bit. If that’s happened to you, here are three easy ways[ii] to put a little oomph back into the mix.
If a man you loved ended the relationship, does that say anything about you?
Did you do something wrong to make it end?
Did he see something in your personality that made him turn away?
Your answers reveal how well you deal with rejection.
That’s the word from a study published in the January 2016 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Taking the end of a relationship personally by blaming yourself makes it more difficult to move on and find someone new.
On the other hand, people who see breakups as something that happens to everyone can move on more easily. Their faith in themselves and faith in love remains intact.
Any time you open your heart to someone, you risk rejection.
Even if you marry the man of your dreams and celebrate your tenth wedding anniversary, you both retain the option to walk away at some future point.
So reducing the negative emotional impact of rejection is worthwhile for all women, whether they’re in a relationship or not.
Study authors Lauren Howe and Carol Dweck suggest the best way to thrive in the face of rejection is to realize that we are all capable of growing and changing as people.
Even if you did something to cause a relationship to end, you can learn from your behavior. You can use what happened as a springboard to become a better person.
But not everyone believes they can change. Some people believe that who you are now is who you’ll be forever.
This “fixed mindset” hampers your ability to recover from rejection.
If you believe you have some fundamental flaw that sabotages your relationships, you’ll be wary about exposing your true self to someone new. You’ll put up walls and hold parts of yourself back.
Jenn feels confused.
She’s been dating Rick for about three months. They have fun together, but she’s past the point of dating purely for entertainment. She’s looking for a real relationship.
The problem is she doesn’t know if Rick is that guy. He’s nice, attractive, and easy to talk to. But when she thinks about a future with him, she feels conflicted.
When she asks her friends, they all have different opinions. How can she know if he’s a keeper?
Women’s magazines and relationship websites love to tackle this question. I’ve read dozens of these articles. They usually include long checklists to help you make a decision. They focus on things like how he treats his mom, or if he tells you you’re beautiful on a sweatpants day.
You don’t need anything that complicated.
If you want to know if the guy you’re with has serious relationship potential, you only need to ask two questions.
Question #1: Does he listen to you?
When we care deeply about someone, we listen to them. Or, to put it in author Bryant H. McGill’s words, “One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
I’m not just talking about “listening” to your words. It’s a different question: Does he listen with his whole mind, body, and soul? Is he really invested in discovering what you need from him?
When the guy you’re dating listens to you, the signs are obvious.
He’ll take your opinions and preferences into account. He’ll adjust his plans to make time for you. He’ll ask questions about the things you’re interested in. He’ll even apologize when he discovers he did something that hurt you or disappointed you.
When he listens to you, you’ll feel validated and important.
If you don’t feel that way, this guy isn’t the one. It’s impossible to build a lasting relationship with someone who doesn’t listen. Even if you don’t fight like cats and dogs, you’ll never have a deep, meaningful connection.
You can only have that kind of relationship with someone who listens to you.
And now the second big question…
You know more than you think.
Female intuition is powerful. It can be considered a woman’s “sixth sense.” If you’re not using it in relationships, you’re missing out on an important source of information.
For example, have you ever felt as if your relationship was falling apart, but your partner gave you no indication anything was wrong?
One survey found that most men take a month to plan a breakup. That means you could be stuck with a man who’s already emotionally left the relationship for four weeks until he finally bothers to let you know.
Should you be ignoring those warning bells going off in your gut? Absolutely not.
The survey isn’t the first to suggest that men stay in relationships they don’t want to be in, simply because they can’t figure out how to end it.
All of us have been guilty at times of “relationship apathy,” the desire to keep things as they are because it’s too much effort to change. Even if a relationship isn’t perfect, many people feel it’s better than being alone.
Still, if a relationship isn’t working, you should know right away. You shouldn’t have to wait for him to spring the news on you.
Luckily, you have a fantastic relationship detection device:
Female intuition is no myth. Women are better at reading subtle nonverbal cues including micro-expressions, tone and posture. Women excel in reading other people’s emotions and tend to rate highly in emotional intelligence.
But many women don’t trust their own intuition. If they have a sense about something but can’t explain it, they tend to dismiss it.
For example, you may feel uncomfortable around someone but be unable to explain why. You may even feel annoyed at yourself for harboring unkind thoughts. You can’t see why that person would be a threat, so you ignore your instincts.
Ignoring your intuition comes at a cost.
Kristina Wright is busy. She’s a full-time freelance writer, wife, and mother of two. Spare time. Kristina doesn’t have it.
In spite of that, she describes her connection with her husband as profoundly tight. “We are together even when we are apart,” she says.
Sounds kind of magical, right? What’s her secret?
In a recent article she explained, “My husband and I text each other like teenagers. We have far more texting conversations than we do face-to-face…”
If you’re thinking that sounds like a red flag, you’re not alone. She gets that feedback fairly often.
But she points to the fact that they’re way more connected than most couples. And given how frequently they communicate, it’s hard to argue.
So, is that it? The so-called absolute best way to communicate is texting?
No. Not exactly.
Wright and her hubby are busy people. And writing comes naturally to both of them. Because of their schedules, they rarely spend 30 minutes chatting on the phone. So texting is the backbone of their communication.
But that’s because it works for them.
Text messages aren’t the important thing. No, the important thing is the discovery these two made. A discovery about what makes communication work.
We are more vulnerable to being hurt by someone we love.
Their opinion matters more. Their actions or disregard for our feelings can sting more deeply.
That’s why you can find yourself in a fight that seems to last all day.
The fight rages from the kitchen to the bedroom, to the living room. Hot anger melts away the surface-level niceties and displays of respect you each deserve from each other.
When that happens, I have two suggestions for you to consider.
A number of couples who have gone through this have reported the same thing. A change of scenery helps.
For some reason, moving to a new location can shake you and your partner out of the entrenched battle mode that seems to be going nowhere.
Go sit on a park bench together. Take a walk. Or just sit on the back porch. These changes of scenery can cool you off and change your perspective.
Here’s what often happens. A change in scenery results in a greater effort to be civil. Because you’re sort of starting over.
It helps you to focus on solutions (rather than winning argument points). And it helps you both return to a more decent way of speaking to each other.
Another simple technique involves writing.
Writing forces you to slow down. It helps you contemplate the clearest way to express your true thoughts. As a result, it reduces many of the misunderstandings that can fuel a fight for hours. It prevents the spin-off arguments. Arguments that have nothing to do with the core issue.
Here’s how to make writing work.
I used to have this friend. He would initiate plans for us to hang out. But at the last minute a more exciting opportunity would come up. Something he thought sounded more exciting.
Time after time, he ditched plans he already had with me or his other friends.
Here’s the important part. I USED to have this friend. After putting up with his flakiness for a while, I got tired of it.
I moved on. Invested in other friendships.
From what I hear, he’s still on the prowl for the bigger, better deal. It’s almost like he’s addicted to the hunt for the most “happening” social scene. Sadly, he’ll continue to miss out on real friendships as long as he keeps up this nonsense.
I know you’re not like this guy. But digital dating has a way of pulling people toward a similar trap.
The digital age has changed how we date. Today there are all kinds of websites, matchmaking services, and even mobile apps that promise the possibility of romance.
And that’s great!
People used to be ashamed to admit they met someone online. That’s silly. Meeting someone is hard. If there’s a website or app that makes it easier, use it.
But be careful you don’t develop an unquenchable craving for the bigger, better deal.
There’s a very real psychological effect to techno-dating. Take one popular app, Tinder, as a prime example. As one article put it, “With Tinder, the pretext is to hook-up, but the real pleasure is derived from the Tindering process.”[i]
In other words, a lot of folks who use dating apps tell themselves they’re looking for a partner. But really, they’re falling in love with the selection process.
Let’s consider a crazy idea. Suppose you were on a mission to wreck your current relationship. How would you do it?
Sure, there are thousands of ways to slay intimacy, but is there one that trumps all the rest? You bet. And it doesn’t just work. It works really well.
If you wanted to push him away, you’d want to know the hassle-free technique with guaranteed results, right? No doubt.
But that’s not your goal!
Trust me, you still want to know.
You want to know because a lot of women unknowingly do this one thing every day. Completely unaware of the real effect, some make it the cornerstone of their communication. In fact, there are even women who think this strategy is the key to relational bliss.
They could not be more wrong.
So, what is it? What’s the surefire relationship killer? Nagging your man to “open up”. Insisting there’s something bothering him. Telling him he really needs to admit something is bothering him.
Men can be emotionally elusive creatures. Sometimes they shut down when it seems like they ought to open up. You know what I’m talking about. You can tell something’s off, but when you ask what’s wrong he just says, “Nothing.”
You care about him. Plus, you can see right through that answer. You’re not being nosy. You genuinely want to be supportive.
Does self-doubt get in your way? Does it take some of the fun out of dating?
For me, one of the hardest things to see is wonderful women who doubt themselves.
They can’t see all the qualities they have that would make a man fall in love.
They worry about how they come across. They chastise themselves for messing up. They just want to do everything perfectly, so he’ll fall for them and they’ll have a shot at happily ever after.
One of my hardest challenges is to convey a new mindset to dispel worry.
Because worrying causes more problems than it solves, especially on those first few dates.
It’s natural to worry, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.
Worrying takes you out of the present moment and puts you in your head. It makes you self-conscious, which makes you more likely to stumble and make mistakes. It makes you tense up, which can cause you to speak faster and louder than normal.
That’s not even the worst part.
The worst part is that tension is contagious.
He’ll pick up on your tension. He’ll start to feel it, too. He’ll become uncomfortable. He’ll start to worry that he’s doing something wrong to make you so uncomfortable.
And the whole date is pulled toward a less genuine level of connection between the two of you.
All of us, men and women alike, put so much effort into a first date. We make sure we’ve chosen the ideal place to meet. We make sure our appearance is perfect. We practice saying witty things in front of the mirror.
Then, when the time comes to actually meet, we blow it. We’re so nervous and anxious that we stick our foot in our mouth, spill the water glass, say something offensive when we were trying to be funny, and slink away at the end of the night without suggesting a repeat.
This is not a gendered problem. Men do it, too! (And probably more often.)
So how can we keep worries from destroying a first date, both for you and for him?
There’s a simple solution:
The male ego is a strange beast.
On one hand, men are proud creatures. They like to feel independent, strong and respected. But they can also be big babies.
Sometimes really big babies.
Dealing with your guy’s ego is kind of like feeding a lion. If you don’t give it enough food, it’ll wither. It’s hard to imagine anything more depressing than the king of the jungle wasting away simply because he can’t get a decent meal.
But if you feed his ego too much, it can turn into a rabid, blood-thirsty monster. Something like Jaws with a mane.
Too much and too little are both bad.
Granted, this is true for everyone. But it’s especially true for us guys. And that’s because guys tend to use their ego as a shield.
Few men will let you get close to them if their egos have recently taken a beating.
Author Carli Blau puts it this way: “A man will sooner let his ego control his emotions than allow his heart to control it, especially if his ego has been bruised.”[i]
So if you want a real connection with him, you have to learn how to feed a lion. Once you learn to do this you’ll be nothing short then His Secret Obsession. Hence the title of my newest course.
No one wants to get their heart broken.
Which means there’s nothing more dangerous than liking someone. If you like someone, you’re taking a HUGE risk.
He may not like you back.
He may seem to like you at first, only to stop calling. Even worse, you may fall deeply in love, only to crash and burn a few months or a few years later, reducing all those beloved memories to ashes.
But there’s one thing worse than taking the risk of liking someone:
Playing it safe.
If you play it safe, you never get the chance to have your heart broken. Playing it safe means you’re less likely to meet someone AND less likely to set off sparks when you do.
There are two big ways in which men and women alike play it safe in love.
Unfortunately, both of those strategies can backfire when it comes to getting a committed romantic partner.
You may be waiting for a moment that’s never going to come.
Remember the big finale in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? Kate Hudson thinks the entire romance has been a lie. Heartbroken, she’s on her way out of town.
And then McConaughey realizes he loves her. He goes after her.
Scratch that. Like a vision straight from the pages of the best romance novel ever written, he mounts a motorcycle and races through New York at rush hour to catch her before she can hop on a plane.
It’s enough to make even the hard-hearted swoon. But, it’s also a mirage.
Movies, especially romantic comedies, whittle the highs and lows of relationships down to 90 minutes. That’s a tall order. To make it work, they exaggerate both extremes.
Romantic gestures are BIG. That’s why they tug on our heart strings. But they also saddle us with wildly unrealistic expectations.
Don’t get me wrong. Real relationships have highs and lows. That part is true.
But McConaughey stopping a cab on a New York bridge? John Cusack holding a boom box over his head outside his girlfriend’s window? An elderly Ryan Gosling faithfully sitting by his ailing wife’s bed every day?
Those things may happen in a real life romance, but they are once-in-a-lifetime events. Seeing it all come together (over and over) in 90-minute films makes it seem normal.
I’m not trying to spoil the fun of romance. Rather, I’m trying to point out something beautiful. Something you could miss if you don’t watch for it.
Be for what you want. Not against what you don’t want.
I think Mother Teresa was brilliant when she responded to a question by saying “I’m not against war. I’m for peace.”
Whatever you are against becomes a bigger part of your life. If you are against your irritating boss, he takes up more space in your mind.
If you are against cold weather, you focus more on the snow and biting winds and less on the warm, cozy retreats where we can escape from the weather.
When you fill your mind with things you want, you experience a more satisfying life.
Nowhere is that more true than in romantic relationships.
As an example, let’s take a look at one of the most common frustrations between men and women.
Men try to fix things. It makes us bad listeners. We offer advice too quickly.
You have a rough day. You start to tell him about it.
All you really wanted was a companion. Someone to be a witness to the frustrations you are experiencing in your life right now. You wanted to bond with him by sharing a frustration you were facing.
But his brain is wired differently.
People will judge you for trying hard.
I did it just the other day. I was standing in line at Walmart. The line was moving slow, and I couldn’t help but notice something.
Walmart had invested in 30 cash registers, yet only two of them were open.
I snickered at how stupid Walmart is. Then I remembered something.
I’m standing in line because they accomplished something difficult. They managed to give me the best price in town. And still make a profit.
Maybe they’re not so stupid.
Maybe having only two cash registers open helps them keep prices down.
They try hard. I have to admire that.
But a lot of “cool people” snicker at those of us who try hard. Giving up and being pessimistic is cool to these people.
Sorry, but that’s not my definition of cool.
Cool is trying hard even if you might fall on your face. Cool is trying again even after you’ve failed several times before.
Cool is the boyfriend who still holds doors open, tells his girlfriend she’s beautiful, and offers to carry things for her while showing respect. Those are real men. They try hard.
Don’t be afraid to try hard. You’ll attract the kind qualities you build up in yourself.
If you want a man who will try hard, someone who will overcome obstacles in the relationship so he can keep loving you, then look for this one quality: Rejection of cynicism.
Someone who’s not afraid to openly talk about what he wants. Someone who’s not too cool to try. Not too cool to admit some things are worth caring about.
But should you always try hard? Continue reading
Which is more dangerous? Sharing too much too soon? Or not sharing enough? Either can kill a developing relationship. The trick is finding balance.
I’ve known people at both extremes.
I think of one friend in particular. We knew each other for nearly a year before I learned he actually enjoyed my company. He even considered me a close friend! He was just very reserved about sharing his inner thoughts.
I’ve also known people who tell their whole life story, including wildly intimate details, in the first conversation. Or on a first date. That creates a different kind of awkwardness.
So, what’s the right timing? How do you open yourself up to your man so that he feels closer to you?
I have two pieces of advice.
Want to master dating and relationships? Then just learn one rule.
Sure, relationships are complex. There are a lot of moving parts. But there’s one guiding principle that brings everything else into alignment.
It’s just one rule, and it’s so important that nothing else matters if you get this one thing wrong.
More than likely you’ve heard the phrase, “alone in a crowd.” You’ve probably even experienced it.
You’re hanging out with friends, but feel no real sense of connection. You join in conversation, but you don’t feel like anyone is on the same wave-length as you.
You’re in close physical proximity, but you’re miles apart emotionally.
That’s what it means to be alone in a crowd.
And it sucks.
It’s a deflating feeling because people you should feel connected to are right there.
And as disappointing as that can be, it’s even worse when it happens with your partner. Then it’s not just deflating. It’s demoralizing. And it’s poison to the intimacy you’ve worked so hard to build.
That brings me to the single most important rule for relationships. Never let the person you love feel alone, especially when he’s in your presence.
After all, that’s why we seek out relationships. For companionship. We don’t want to feel alone. So the most important thing you can do in any relationship is guard that feeling of connection.
While the rule is simple, mastering it takes time and practice.
The good news is there’s a way to make mastering the rule a little easier.
Should you judge a guy by his manners? To help you decide, I’d like you to consider the story of what happened to my friend.
She recently told me about a failed first date. Things started off shaky when he picked her up in a van he clearly used for construction work. She was not one to put too much stock in what a guy drives, that wasn’t a deal-breaker.
However, once on the road he reached behind the seat, retrieved an old t-shirt, and proceeded to blow his nose in it before wadding it up and tossing it over his shoulder into the back.
My friend was understandably grossed out. But more than that, she was offended. Not because she sees herself as Miss Manners, but because he clearly wasn’t invested in impressing her.
So where did this guy blow it, no pun intended? Believe it or not, the issue wasn’t that he did something gross. No, the problem with this guy went deeper. He wasn’t taking my friend’s feelings into account. He wasn’t sensitive to the way his manners might affect her.
To be candid, a lot of guys are rough around the edges. If you’re on a date and he plops his elbows on the table, or chews with his mouth open, or fails to hold the door for you, that doesn’t mean you need to kick him to the curb.
After all, traditionally defined “good manners” change depending on culture, social class, and location. Some women would actually be offended if a guy held the door for them!
Don’t call things off with a guy just because he unknowingly does something that’s in poor taste. Given time, you can find loving ways to smooth out those wrinkles. That’s not really a big deal.
But if he’s oblivious to the effect he has on you, that’s something else.
“He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes.
But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.”
– Antoine De Saint Exupery, The Little Prince
It’s a bad idea to compare yourself to other women. Not just a little bad. Epically bad.
I once dated an identical twin. We were already a couple before I met her sister, and I was more than a little nervous.
What if I found her sister attractive, too? I mean, they looked the same. Would I feel the same kind of feelings for this other person? And if I did, would the woman I was dating be able to tell?
The whole thing ended up being fairly anti-climactic. I didn’t feel anything special toward her sister. She looked just like my girlfriend, but that was about it.
I learned something important. It’s your history together that makes someone special. Not the way you look. Not your sense of humor, your intelligence, or even your values.
Am I saying those deeper qualities don’t matter? Of course not. Those are the things that make you who you are. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that stuff is inconsequential. It defines you.
But it doesn’t define your relationship. Your history together does.
If the guy you’re with meets another girl with a similar sense of humor, or mirror-image values, that doesn’t mean he’s going to feel the kind of connection he feels with you.
Those qualities are important. They played a role in bringing the two of you together. But your relationship is built on something he doesn’t have with anyone else. Something he can’t have with anyone else. Time with you.
Maybe he met you at a gym. He likes a woman who takes care of her body. He tells you this all the time. So it makes sense if you feel a little insecure when a physical trainer starts chatting him up. Her legs are even more toned than yours! Will he feel attracted to her?
He may find her legs attractive. I won’t lie. So…does that mean you need to hit the gym more often? Do you need to compete?
Indifference. It’s the saddest feeling in the world. Which is ironic, because indifference isn’t a feeling at all.
It’s the opposite of a feeling.
An indifferent person is like a car with no gas. People reach a point of indifference when there’s just nothing left in their emotional tank.
Indifference is the opposite of the things that make us human. Love, joy, anger, fear, hunger, curiosity, passion, lust and even loss– all vanquished by indifference.
Nobel Prize winner and Nazi prison camp survivor Elie Wiesel put it this way: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Indifference is sadder than sadness. When a person is indifferent, they aren’t engaged in life. They don’t care. Nothing matters. What could possibly be sadder than that?
I tend to think of indifference as an early symptom of soul sickness. Don’t ignore this red flag. If you’re feeling it, even a little bit, it’s time for a change. Here’s why you need to act fast.
The two of you bump into an acquaintance. “Oh! Jane! Hi. Nice to see you too. Uh, yes, this is my…my…” My what?
You can’t skip the introduction. That would be rude.
But what if you haven’t had a “state of the relationship” talk? What if nothing’s been defined? What do you say about him then?
It’s an unfortunate truth that most people default to introducing their significant other as “my friend.”
There’s a better way.
Don’t introduce him in terms of his relationship to you. Instead, introduce him in terms of what’s interesting about him.
“Oh! Jane! Hi. This is Jeff Thompson, one of the most creative artists you’ll ever meet.”
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? And yet you didn’t say whether he’s your friend, your boyfriend, your fiance, your casual fling, or anything else that starts with “your.”
Just start with his name. Then add something interesting about him.
This prevents him from coming to the conclusion that you see him as “just a friend,” or that you don’t feel comfortable with people thinking you’re an item.
Pamela looks at her friend with wide eyes. “How did you respond?” she asks.
Jenn is clearly on edge. “What do you think I said? I told him I don’t appreciate all the negativity. I mean, it’s not like he’s perfect. I don’t want to date someone who’s just going to criticize me at every turn.”
“Is he normally negative?”
“No, but he’s my boyfriend. He’s supposed to build me up, not tear me down.”
Pamela bites her lower lip, carefully choosing her words. “I get it,” she says. “Criticism is no fun. But…doesn’t he kind of have a point?”
It doesn’t matter who’s giving negative feedback, criticism is always hard to hear. And when it comes from your partner, it feels particularly personal. As a result, very few of us react well. In fact, most of us just make the situation worse.
Like Jenn, we get all defensive, even if the criticism has some validity.
But there’s something you need to know about criticism. It’s inevitable, especially in a committed relationship. As the ancient philosopher Aristotle said, “There’s only one way to avoid criticism. Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
That begs the question, how do you handle criticism in a productive way?
Any positive memory can give you an instant energy boost. Let me show you how.
Several years ago, I read a study about vacations. The researchers were trying to determine how to make the relaxing feeling of being on vacation last as long as possible.
Believe it or not, they found souvenirs to be very helpful. No, a coffee mug can’t capture all the wonderful things that make a trip energizing. But it can remind you of a time of stress-free fun.
Memories are powerful. And I’m not just talking about vacation memories, either. In fact, you can harness the power of any positive memory in about five minutes.
Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper. For just five minutes, write about a time you felt inspired, energized, or deeply interested in something.
The subject matter could be anything. Perhaps a Broadway musical that tapped into your passions. Or maybe something awe-inspiring you saw, like a meteor shower, a waterfall, or a double rainbow. It could even be a moment when you received good news about something.
As you write, focus on the way you felt. Not just on what happened. Write what you were thinking during the experience. Your goal here is to recapture the sensations of the moment. As you do that, you’ll begin to feel yourself shift toward a more inspired and energized state of mind.
This simple mind-hack is effective because of how memory works. To access a memory, your brain has to activate your senses. It has to literally recreate the same feelings and sensations you experienced during the original event. The act of intentionally focusing on a time you were inspired will make you feel inspired all over again.
Now, I want you to do three things. First, I want you to try it.
Jessica is busy. She has a chaotic job, often requiring hours of overtime. She rushes frantically from meeting to meeting, always just barely pulling it off. Somehow, she juggles that with family, outings with friends, daily workouts, and (most recently) …dating.
When friends ask how it’s going with her new guy, she says it’s good. Things are progressing, and she looks forward to where she hopes they’re headed. But what about where things are right now?
This is a relationship, not a project with a deadline. Is Jessica enjoying the present, or just pushing for what the relationship could become? Like a lot of us, Jessica struggles to live in the moment.
When you rush toward the future or dwell on the past, you miss what’s going on in the present.
Psychologists call this concept “mindfulness.” I first learned the benefits of mindfulness from a seminar by a Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who defines it as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally—as if your life depended on it.”
I’d like to point out two things about that.
Angie was excited when she met Scott. He seemed to be everything she wanted. An embodiment of the very affirmation she held over the past two months while working with me as her relationship coach.
I knew she was truly smitten with love when she said, “He just makes my heart sing!” That phrase was a part of an affirmation we had been working on since day one.
In my initial assessment of Angie’s situation, it became apparent that she had a self-defeating belief about relationships. There are many variations of this particular belief, but the general theme of it was this: “Guys are all pigs. True romance is a Hollywood illusion.”
This was an unconscious belief for Angie. It became apparent as we began discussing what kind of guy she would be really happy with.
We were trying to get through an worksheet on building a positive vision for the kind of guy she wanted to find. We were both in tears from laughing so hard by the time we got to the sixth item on the worksheet. Because every time Angie began to say something good she would like to find in a man, she had two sarcastic reasons why such a man could never actually exist!
The more we talked about it, the clearer it became to both of us that deep down in her heart, she did not believe any man would actually rise to the challenge of joining her in a truly satisfying relationship.
Your Beliefs Determine Much of Your Reality.
So we got to work on replacing that relationship-sabotaging belief with a new, more empowering one.
The holidays can be a wonderful time for relationships. Or they can wreak havoc on your dating life. It all depends on whether or not you manage to avoid one critical mistake.
A lot of people roll into the holiday season thinking the festivities will give them unique insight into the status of their relationship. That makes sense, especially if the relationship is new.
There are several potential indicators. Like whether he invites you to be his date for an office holiday party or a New Year’s Eve celebration. Or whether or not he gives you a gift (and what it is). Or how he reacts to your gift.
The temptation is to approach each of these like a litmus test. In fact, earlier this month there was an article in Glamour[i] encouraging readers to do just that! I cringed when I read it because that’s horrible advice.
Holiday events shouldn’t be used as gauges for your relationship’s health. I can give you two reasons why.
The idea that men are afraid of commitment is universally accepted. Most of us think of it as a given, assuming men and commitment just don’t mix.
But this common perception is fundamentally flawed. Men aren’t really afraid of commitment, and never have been.
I know. That flies in the face of every romantic comedy you’ve ever seen. At least half of them feature at least one male character who talks about committed relationships like they’re prison sentences.
Settling down with one woman means sacrificing freedom, excitement, and independence. We’re so accustomed to this theme; it would throw us off if it was left out.
But it’s all wrong. While there is something men are afraid of, it isn’t that.
Of course, most women are under the impression that men are very much afraid of commitment. As a result, when a man resists committing to serious relationship there’s potential for all kinds of confusion. And it’s worse when you are looking for a committed relationship.
You’ve probably experienced this. You start dating a guy who really clicks with you, but things stall out shy of commitment. He tells you he’s not in a place where he’s looking for that right now.
The temptation is to burn bridges with him. After all, if he’s not mature enough to handle a grown up relationship, what’s the point?
Sometimes one small thing can make a big difference, especially in relationships. The key is knowing what small things to focus on.
While there are plenty of differences between men and women, there are some ways in which we’re exactly the same. I’d like to share one of those with you today. And I’ll even show you how to use this information to supercharge the connection with your guy.
This is a small thing with a big payoff.
But first, let me ask you a question. Think about the last time you changed your hairstyle or wore a new article of clothing for the first time. I’m not talking about a dramatic change. Just something subtle, though still noticeable.
When you left the house that day, were you hoping someone would notice the change?
Of course you were. As nice as it is for people to compliment us on big things, it’s even nicer when someone notices the small stuff. It means they’re really paying attention. In a way, those little compliments are the biggest, best compliments we can get.
And small compliments are even better when they speak to who you are as a person.
If a guy tells you he’s too damaged, too depressed, or too anything else, take him at his word.
Do you remember that Cold Play song, “Fix You?”
The chorus said, “Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you.” That was the most popular song from Cold Play’s third album, X&Y. It still gets radio play, and I can understand why.
It sounds sweet. The basic idea is even romantic that you could care about someone so much that your love overcomes the broken condition of their heart.
Unfortunately, it’s also highly unlikely.
But in spite of that, this is one of the questions I’m asked most frequently. Women want to know how they can rescue a guy who is neurotic. Someone who claims he’s broken or insists that he’s just not good enough for her.
So, I’m going to tell you what I tell all my clients. When a guy claims he’s messed up, you should be very cautious about moving forward. The same thing goes for a guy who goes on and on about how you’re out of his league. Sure, it’s flattering to hear at first, but it’s a significant red flag if he keeps at it.
Here’s why. When a relationship begins with that kind of dynamic, you’re more or less signing up to be his emotional guardian. Get ready to be his one-woman support network. You’ll spend untold amounts of time and effort working to protect his fragile self-esteem. No matter what you’ve heard about snagging a guy who’s a ‘fixer upper,’ it’s not a fun job.
It’s work. A lot of work.
The feeling that you’re always taking care of him will wear on you. Trust me. Most guys who see themselves as damaged aren’t all that great at returning love and support.
But there’s more.
Janice wasn’t trying to snoop. She was just looking up movie times. Her phone was in the other room, so she grabbed Brad’s off the coffee table.
But before she could fire up his browser and do a quick internet search, he got a text message from someone named Cheryl.
“Last night was unexpected!” That was it.
He said he was working late last night. Some kind of sales meeting. Immediately, Janice felt worry settle in. She’d been cheated on before, and she didn’t like the idea of living through that nightmare again.
But things seemed to be going well with Brad. If she questioned him about the message, it could send him running.
What to do? Ask him about it even if it freaks him out? Or let it go and leave herself at risk?
Particularly in the beginning stages of a relationship, there are all kinds of opportunities to doubt the other person. After all, that’s when trust is still in its fledgling stages.
Vague little things, like a text message or something you spot in his apartment, or his erratic schedule, can leave you feeling suspicious. Before long, you slip into a mindset of apprehension, even when the evidence is paper thin.
There’s a better way to handle these kinds of situations.
I once sat with a couple during their argument. She was upset, and she let him have it.
She accused him of several hurtful mistakes. When she paused, he admitted he’d screwed up and said, “I’m sorry.”
She looked at him blankly for a moment, and then continued her tirade. When she paused a second time, he said, “I won’t do it again.”
Once more, she jumped right back into her rant. In fact, her accusations continued until finally he asked a crucial question. This one question was more profound than admitting he was wrong or even promising to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
He said, “How can I make it up to you?”
And that was when her anger melted. She began to speak softly and look him in the eye. In a more loving tone, she told him what she needed him to do differently. He listened and seemed to understand.
To be honest, the whole thing confused me initially, but then I reflected on it a bit and it made perfect sense. Let me explain why that last question worked.
“You’re used to doing so many things without any intention in the first place.” – Katie Lee, The Small Change Project
That’s a zinger of a first line, but it’s true for a lot of us. Maybe most of us. We tend to give little thought to how we approach things, cycling through days and even weeks on autopilot. We do what we’ve always done, just because we’ve always done it.
Then, at some point, you realize you’re not getting the results you want. Not even close. And because the goal feels a long way off, you assume you need to make big, sweeping changes. After all, you want big results.
But it’s the little changes that make all the difference. And the biggest little change you can make is entirely internal.
I’ll explain by telling you two things I’ve discovered about myself. Perhaps they’re true for you, too. Here’s the first thing I’ve discovered.
I have two modes. One is what I call my “approach mindset.” When I’m in this mode of thinking, I focus on possibilities. I’m on the lookout for opportunities, tuned into the key things I want out of life. As a result, I tend to be upbeat and optimistic.
My other mode is different. I call it my “avoidance mindset.” In this mode, I’m primarily concerned about the things that could go wrong. I end up grasping for control and obsessing over problems I see in myself and others.
Take a wild guess as to which mode is more enjoyable and fulfilling.
There’s an old saying: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
In other words, failing is a part of the journey that transforms you into a master (at anything).
Like her or not, you may know the name Arianna Huffington. She’s the editor-in-chief and President of The Huffington Post. What you may not know is that long before she founded one of the most successful news sites on the internet, her second book was rejected by publishers a whopping 36 times.
That’s right. Her second book. Her first book had been a success, and still no one wanted to publish the second. Talk about a crippling blow.
But, here’s what she says about the low points of her career:
“My mother instilled in me that failure was not something to be afraid of, that it was not the opposite of success. It was a stepping stone to success. So I had no fear of failure. Perseverance is everything. I don’t give up. Everybody has failures, but successful people keep on going…”
Everybody has failures, but successful people keep on going.
Imagine stepping into an elevator with an attractive colleague. Someone you’ve noticed and wanted to get to know better. It’s just the two of you, and this is the second day in a row this has happened.
What are the odds?
It feels a bit like destiny leading you into each other’s lives. So, you make a casual comment to that effect. It catches his attention.
He replies with a smile and a laugh. Suddenly he’s looking at you differently. You’re on his radar now, and he’s much more likely to see all the good things about you he hadn’t noticed before.
What I just described is actually a powerful technique. The mere suggestion that a seemingly random event means something actually makes it mean something. In this case, the random event is being together on the elevator two days in a row, but it could be almost anything.
I call this approach the “destiny framework.” Here’s how it works.
Life can unfold a million different ways. So everything that happens, is (technically speaking) statistically unlikely. On top of that, sometimes it’s the small, unexpected things that completely alter the course of your whole life! Like bumping into someone you’re interested in on an elevator.
The moment someone points out all the little details that had to line up perfectly to bring you to where you are right now, it begins to feel like you were simply destined to be here. And that sense of destiny tends to open our eyes. It encourages us to look for the significant little things we might be missing.
You can use that very natural response to center his focus on you.
What’s more, putting this technique to work for you couldn’t be easier. Plus, it works with guys you’re just getting to know, as well as long-term, serious partners. To harness this power, you only have to remember three dead-simple steps.
I have a friend who writes down happy memories on scraps of paper. She folds each one and keeps them all in a jar.
When the jar is full, she sits down with a cup of coffee and reads the notes.
It’s such a simple thing, but it refreshes each memory in her mind. It makes her feel the happiness all over again. It ensures she doesn’t forget life’s pleasant moments.
Most of the time it’s our problems that get the lion’s share of our attention.
Someone says something irritating to you at work. An unexpected large bill shows up in the mail. Your sister didn’t send you a birthday gift. Again.
It’s natural for your minds to focus on these things. Our tendency is to want to solve our problems, so we think about them.
But when you think about them too much, your quality of life declines. Your mood follows your thoughts. Humans generate stress hormones whenever we dwell on worries or irritating events.
We need what my friend has created for herself. We need ways to create a memory bank full of happiness. That’s especially true in relationships.
When you hit a rough patch in your relationship, it’s easy to focus all your attention on the obstacles and forget the good things. If you don’t have a memory bank of happiness cued up and ready to go, it will be harder to remember the good times.
This creates an imbalance.
It’s no fun when you realize you’re doing more for him than he’s doing for you. He could give as much as you’re giving in the relationship. It’s not that he can’t. It just seems like he’s not willing.
And that’s why it hurts.
Sometimes our expectations for another person are based on what we know we’re willing to do for them. You know you’d move for his career, for example, so you want him to be willing to consider at least moving for yours.
And it’s not just the big stuff. It’s the people you hang out with, willingness to set aside hurt feelings for the sake of feeling close again, or being there for you when you’re in a bad mood.
There will always be sacrifices in relationships, but the moment you feel like you’re making most of them you’re in trouble. And the longer you feel that way, the more negatively it will affect the relationship.
The trick is to stop that imbalance from building into resentment.
The Impact of Resentment
If there’s an imbalance in the relationship, ask yourself this question. Are you starting to resent him?
Glennon Melton is a speaker and a New York Times bestselling author. Said another way, she’s someone who knows how to put words to good use.
In spite of that, she used to make the same mistake many of us make. When she and her husband saw each other at the end of the day, they greeted one another with a cliché question.
“How was your day? “
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that intimate, high-quality conversations didn’t tend to follow.
Eventually, the couple ended up in relationship therapy. I’ll let her explain what happened next:
“Through therapy, we learned to ask each other better questions… questions that carry along with them this message: ‘I’m not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel. I really want to know you. If we don’t want throw-away answers, we can’t ask throw-away questions.”
The problem is, “throw-away questions” are easy. We’re so accustomed to asking them that they’re practically automatic.
Let’s talk about the risks you take in your romantic life. I’ll start with a quick story…
Jill just finished a one-on-one review with her boss. She’s venting to a friend in the break room.
Her boss gave her some criticism. He said she’s not “applying herself.” But she’s frustrated because she simply doesn’t know if putting in extra effort will pay off.
“I would work a lot harder if I knew it would guarantee a promotion or a raise,” she tells her friend.
Lance, a coworker, is pouring a cup of coffee within earshot. He understands completely. “Yeah, and I’d ask you out if I knew you were going to say yes,” he thinks to himself.
Jill and Lance are both wrestling with a common problem. We all struggle with feelings of uncertainty. No matter how brave or bold you are, it’s hard to commit when there’s no guaranteed payoff.
There’s a word for that. Risk. And if you deal with a risk like Jill and Lance, you’ll miss out on a lot of life’s rewards.
That’s especially true in relationships.
Of course, in a committed relationship the stakes are a little different. The temptation to avoid risk in a relationship goes more like this: “Prove that you’re really into me first, and then I’ll be more selfless, giving and transparent.”
Have you ever wondered what your relationship will be like down the road? Over the course of time our true colors naturally show. But if you’re watching for it, you can get a good picture of his character early on. Even during the first few dates. The secret is simple.
Jean Paul eloquently said, “A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another’s.”
There are a lot of ways to discern a person’s character. One of the best ways is by watching how he treats those who are powerless to repay either kindness or contempt. And people are always powerless when they aren’t even there to defend themselves!
In other words, the way he talks about other people says more about his character than anyone else.
With that in mind, consider the following questions. How does he talk about his ex-girlfriend or ex-wife? His boss? Friends? Family? Is there kindness in his words? Does he lean toward forgiveness and grace, even with those who have wronged him? Or is he bitter and prone to blame?
I’m not saying he can never say anything negative about other people. Of course he didn’t always get along with his ex. But the real question is this. Does he stew in negativity about her, even if he’s nice to her face? Or does he make an effort to be forgiving?
You want to spend more time with him. He says he loves you and wants to spend more time with you too.
But he’s not making any adjustments to his schedule. No matter how many times you talk to him about it, the situation doesn’t change.
The problem appears to have no solution. You’re stuck.
Being stuck is no fun. Whatever the issue, big or small, here are two ways to get unstuck.
1. Break it Down
This is a classic problem-solving technique. It works well with problems that feel big and unwieldy. The kind of problems that leave you feeling overwhelmed just thinking about them.
Take the problem and break it down into a series of smaller problems.
Most big problems are a bunch of little problems all clustered together. When you break those little problems apart, you can then choose one and work on solving it.
Take the example above. He’s not spending as much time with you as you’d like. One of the smaller problems might be that he doesn’t even use a schedule, so whatever is most urgent gets the lion’s share of his time and attention. Dive into that problem. Is he open to using a planner to schedule social time in advance?
Or maybe a smaller problem is that he believes the two of you don’t have any recreational preferences in common. Working on that subcomponent of the larger problem might get you “unstuck.”
Remember the last time you were talking to someone and felt like they weren’t listening at all?
It happens to me more often than I like. Sometimes I’ll say something totally outlandish just to see if they react. It’s surprising how often they just nod.
The sad reality is that we live in a culture that isn’t very listening-oriented. It’s sad because everyone values being listened to. Few things matter to us as much as feeling understood. That’s when our connection to another really deepens.
But, there’s an upside. You can use that truth to boost your relationship’s intimacy in less than five minutes. Here’s how.
First, when you talk to the man you’re interested in, read between the lines.
Second, reflect on what he’s not saying (but clearly feeling).
I used to know an older couple who refused to make any big decision without “sleeping on it” first. Whether booking a trip, or buying a car, or overseeing their investments, they always talked about it one day and made the final decision the next.
I didn’t realize at the time just how wise they were. They really were making better decisions by waiting and sleeping on it, and the reason has nothing to do with sleep.
A few years ago, researchers at Radboud University discovered there’s more to making good decisions than clear thinking. In fact, sometimes a purely logical approach actually gets in the way. When your brain focuses on conscious problem-solving, it turns off the part of itself that’s more intuitive. The two parts can’t both function at the same time.
In other words, when you’re most logical, you’re less intuitive.
That’s why it’s so common for people to solve complex problems while they’re doing something totally mundane, like taking a shower or driving. Those kinds of activities allow us the mental room to daydream, and the intuitive part of our brain kicks back on.
The British Royal Navy takes this idea seriously. They include it in their emergency protocols. When there’s a nautical emergency, the first command from the captain isn’t what you’d expect. He calls for an “all-still.” For the next three minutes, everyone on board stops what they’re doing. No one moves or even speaks.
In school, it was helpful to give the impression you knew a bit more than you really did. The same thing is true for adults in the workplace. After all, no one wants to draw attention by admitting they have no idea what that acronym stands for when everyone else is nodding like they get the manager’s point.
Projecting confidence in a school or at the office is a smart move, but when we carry that over to our relationships, bad things can happen. Here’s how.
One of the keys to a healthy relationship is deep understanding. The better you understand yourself and your partner, the easier it is to sidestep problems and cultivate intimacy. But you can’t grow in understanding if you aren’t willing to admit there are things you don’t know.
It’s an annoyingly helpless feeling. You sent him a text message, and now you’re waiting for the reply. Minutes tick by. Then half an hour. An hour, and still you’re waiting.
The longer you have to wait, the more anxious you feel. Is he snubbing you? Did he take your last message the wrong way? Is he losing interest? What does it mean?
The truth is, most of the time it doesn’t mean anything.
There’s this great video called “I Forgot My Phone.” It depicts a young woman in all kinds of social situations. The other people she’s with, her friends and even her boyfriend, are constantly on their phones. She stands out because she’s the only one who doesn’t have an electronic device in hand. She’s more focused on the things going on around her than updating her social networks.
What about you? Are you one of those people who treats your smartphone like an appendage? If so, I can understand why it would freak you out when he doesn’t reply quickly. Your phone is always with you. If you don’t reply immediately, there’s a reason.
But I want you to consider two things.
Should you gamble on your relationship?
Psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky discovered something fascinating about how we deal with risk.
A professor at Princeton, Kahneman is known for offering students in his class a simple gamble: a coin toss. If it lands on tails, the student loses $10. He then asks how much the student would have to win if it lands on heads for the gamble to be worth the risk.
Consistently, students want a minimum of $20 for a win before they’ll take him on. In other words, they want twice as much reward before they are willing to risk a potential loss.
Most of us are like that. We’re so committed to avoiding a loss that we’ll say “no thank you” to potential gains unless the odds are stacked overwhelmingly in our favor. The technical name for this is “aversion to loss.” Economists and psychologists alike use this theory to explain a lot of the choices we make.
When it makes its way into your relationship, this same dynamic can hold you back. Here’s how.
As a relationship coach, I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what creates romance. Romantic gestures come in all shapes and sizes. Little things like a bouquet of flowers, and big things like a surprise proposal. But almost every romantic gesture I can think of has one thing in common.
Spontaneity is what keeps the romance going strong. The question is how do you maintain spontaneity in your relationship? I’d like to suggest two things.
First, make it a point to do unexpected things for him. Guys don’t typically get excited about flowers and chocolates, so you may have to get creative here. Cook his favorite meal or take him to his favorite restaurant for dinner. Take him to watch the action flick you know he’s dying to see. If he’s a sports fan, tickets to see his favorite team are always a good call.
“You said that just to hurt me!”
It hurts (a lot) when someone you care for doubts your motives.
It’s one of the most upsetting things in the world. It’s a recipe for an epic fight.
When you’re upset, point out the actions that make you feel hurt. Don’t accuse your partner of intending to hurt you.
Why? Because if you’ve experienced this yourself, you know it leaves you feeling misunderstood to the point that you actually feel lonely.
“If he doesn’t know my character well enough to know I would not intentionally hurt him like that then he must not know me at all.”
So what should you do when you feel hurt?
For starters, don’t ignore it or avoid it. I’m not suggesting that you say nothing. That’s a bad call. If you’re hurt and uncomfortable, you need to communicate that. Stuffing your feelings will only lead to resentment. That’s toxic in any relationship. It will end up pushing the two of you apart in the long run.
You can and should tell him when you feel hurt. Tell him he was insensitive. Tell him he’s ignoring an emotional need you have.
Just don’t tell him he meant to hurt you. You see the distinction, right?
Text messages are great. They allow for quick communication practically anywhere. When you’re dating someone, they have the very real potential to help your relationship grow.
But they can also hinder it.
A lot of people rely on text messages to get something more than information. What do they want? Attention and affirmation. They want to know there’s still a warm connection.
Granted, it’s nice to be on the receiving end of those kinds of messages sometimes. The problem occurs when you get those kinds of messages all of the time.
My advice is simple. Don’t use text messages as an easy way of asking for attention over and over again. Instead, send him messages that have value.
Unfortunately, many of us are in the habit of sending valueless text messages. I’ll give you a few examples. I’m not saying you should never send these kinds of messages. Just make sure you don’t overuse them.
1.”I miss you.”
This can easily come across as an attempt to get him to reply with, “I miss you, too.” Frequent messages that sound like you’re fishing for a specific response can make a guy feel trapped. Don’t send this one too often.
You probably have a guy in mind right now. He’s the reason you signed up to receive my emails, right?
Well that makes me happy. Because I have a lot of valuable ideas to share with you.
Starting with this one…
I’m going to show you an easy way to unlock your natural charisma every time you interact with your guy. So let’s get to it.
It all comes down to a simple question: Do you believe you can enhance his life?
I mean, are you convinced that the guy you’re interested in would experience more happiness in life if he settled into a relationship with you?
And if you’re already dating him, are you convinced he’s lucky to have you?
You should be. In fact, that conviction is vitally important to the health of your relationship. Here’s why.
Okay, imagine you’re sitting at the departure gate in an airport. Your gaze wanders across the rows of people seated around you. And there’s this attractive guy who catches your eye.
First impressions tell a lot. And you can tell this is a guy you would love to find yourself sitting next to on the plane.
But why leave it to chance? Why not approach him now? Strike up a conversation. That would work fine, right?
Right. Except one thing. It feels weird to walk up to a complete stranger with the obvious intent of trying to strike up a conversation.
You fear he would see right through you. See that you like him. See that you’re nervous. See that you want something from him: his attention.
And that makes you uncomfortable in a sweaty-palms sort of way. Which, I can tell you, as a dating and relationship coach…it’s just not the vibe you want. You can do better. And I’m going to show you how.
To see how this works, let’s imagine the same basic situation. Only this time, you have something to offer. Something to give him.
You see, he stands up and glances toward the nearest convenience store, probably planning to grab a magazine for the long flight. He grabs his luggage, but accidentally leaves his cell phone on the arm rest.
You snatch the phone and skip after him.
Are you nervous to approach him this time? Of course not! Poor guy. You’ve got something he desperately needs while traveling. You have every reason to approach him. It’s him who will be in your debt.
And that is the magical mindset. That’s the mindset that automatically unlocks the relaxed, confident, and charismatic version of you. And that’s exactly why I want you to start using that mindset on a regular basis. Use it anytime you are about to interact with a love interest.
You use it by remembering one thing. You have a lot to offer. If he let’s you into his life, you’ll enhance it.
The basic belief that you can enrich his life through a close, intimate relationship is crucial. Because it changes how you come across to him.
I want you to remember that you have something pretty awesome to offer. Yourself.
But I understand this is one of those “easier said than done” ideas. So here’s an easy technique for keeping your confidence up.
I’d like to show you something interesting.
Allow me to do an experiment on your brain.
To play along, just allow your mind and imagination to wander, using the words on this page as your guide.
Imagine that, right now, you have an abundance of everything you need. Imagine this is true whether you know it or not.
You have all of the money you need even if you are unaware of the sources from which it will come.
You have all the love you need from others, coming from all sorts of different directions, too many directions for you to anticipate.
Some of you are good at this imaginative form of play. For others of you, this may be a bit of a struggle. So let’s back up a few steps and start with something easier.
Let’s focus your mind on abundance, the kind that is easier to notice. Notice how you have an abundance of air to breathe.
Notice how you have an abundance of light available to you. Notice how there is an abundance of space, an abundance of different places you could go.
Pause for a moment and contemplate what else is abundantly available to you.
Do you have an abundance of music available to you?
When I was 7 years old, my parents gave me a special gift. It was a small, white, electric piano.
It was more of a toy than anything else, with terrible sound quality and powered by two AA batteries. Yet it had enough power to generate a painful experience early in my life.
I loved that little piano.
I carried it around because it was so small and portable. My preferred spot to sit and play was in the little tree-house in my backyard.
When I would sit in my tree-house and play, there was nothing but music. There was no self-consciousness. There was no ego. It was just music, and I was the conduit that let it flow.
I learned to translate the beautiful music in my mind into the finger movements that could cause a shadow of what I imagined to emerge in the wavering electronic sounds from my little piano.
My mother eventually noticed my music. My father was a penny pincher, but my mother insisted that piano lessons would be worth the expense.
I didn’t take well to piano lessons. It just wasn’t the same as letting the music flow through me. Piano lessons were too formal and structured for my liking.
Nonetheless, I cooperated with my mother’s plan. I learned the basics and one day in high school found myself invited to play at a recital for piano students at a nearby college.
I’ve never been comfortable with performance situations. I clam up. My hands seem like they belong to someone else, and I focus on my fear of failing.
The music dies. It stops frolicking in my mind and retreats to hide from the fearful focus of my anxious thoughts.
That’s what happened as I sat at the grand piano on stage, hundreds of music majors and professors of music gathered to hear their star pupils.
I felt fantastically inadequate. I did not belong. I suddenly felt angry at my mother for thrusting me into this uncomfortable situation.
Despite all this, my fingers began to play. The melody emerged as I focused on the technical qualities my piano teacher had asked me to display with this particular piece of music.
Then I froze.
Some people just fascinate me.
Sometimes I’m not entirely sure why. But one of my goals is to live a truly interesting life. So when I meet someone who seems very interesting, I pay attention.
In trying to figure out what makes interesting people interesting. I’ve noticed a few things. I’m going to share four of them with you in this article. Consider this your guide to becoming a more interesting person.
But before we start, no one’s saying you’re not interesting enough right now. These are just some tips to make you more interesting. If you’re an introvert, these will also help you break out of your shell a bit.
The common element is that these comments shock others out of their routines. Admit it. These remarks are a lot more interesting than, “How are you?” or, “Just fine, thank you.”
Interesting people allow their curiosity and unique point of view to find its way to the surface while everyone else suppresses that stuff to try to fit in.
How do they do it?
Finding common ground is one of the fastest ways to build a feeling of warmth. It’s how we establish familiarity with people we’ve just met. It’s also a surprisingly good way to restore feelings of connection with an existing partner.
But how do you find new common ground with someone you already know?
Even if you know someone really well, there are always new things to learn. The trick to getting to know someone better is to find out what you have in common. Here’s an easy way to do just that.
1.What’s your favorite thing that happened in the past week?
Invite him to play a ‘free association game’ that starts like this. You ask him this question: What’s your favorite thing that happened in the past week? There’s no right or wrong answer, so there’s no pressure.
You listen to his answer. This is important. Really listen.
When he’s done, share any connections you have with his memory. That’s what free association is.
For example, if he mentions a slice of apple pie he had at a certain diner, and you’ve been to that same diner with friends, you mention that you’ve been there but that you never tried the apple pie.
Which style of flirting do you use most?
Research at the University of Kansas with more than 10,000 people revealed five distinct flirting styles.
It turns out the type of flirting you use can influence the types of relationships you end up in.
Dr. Jeffrey Hall is the professor at the University of Kansas who directed the research team and analyzed the results.
He found five primary flirting styles.
While there’s no right or wrong way to flirt, it turns out some of the flirting styles are more effective than others, depending on what kind of results you’re hoping for.
Here are the five flirting styles his research team identified:
Playful Flirt: A silly kind of flirting that involves a lot of playful, game-like interactions that make it seem almost like flirting is a sport.
It’s a very casual style of flirting, and it can be fun for both parties.
However, this type of flirting seems to repel people interested in a serious relationship.
Polite Flirt: This is a style of flirting that is highly focused on exhibiting proper manners and polite interaction.
People who use this as their predominant style of flirting often miss the fact that other people are flirting with them.
They are very slow to pick up on flirtatious behavior from others, to a point that you almost have to ask them out directly before they realize you’re hitting on them.
The good news is, people who have a more polite flirting style tend to enjoy longer, more meaningful romantic relationships.
Physical Flirt: This flirting style is primarily about using body language to suggest interest on a physical level (or to arouse the physical desire of your target).
Do you know the difference between “broadcast” flirting and “exclusive” flirting?
Broadcast flirting is on display for everyone to see.
When a woman uses broadcast flirting, everyone around can see what she’s up to.
For example, it’s broadcast flirting when Debbie laughs at all of Daniel’s jokes at the office party and purposefully compliments him in front of others. Exclusive flirting is different.
Think of it like an exclusive club.
There are only two people in the club, and the two people share something exclusive. You may think of yourself as someone who would never use flirting as an attraction tool, maybe because of the potential for embarrassment or a distaste for acting like someone you’re not.
But that’s because you think of all flirting as broadcast flirting.
Broadcast flirting dominates our perception of flirting because it’s what we see most often.
Exclusive flirting is different. It happens behind the scenes.
It’s far more subtle, and in my opinion more effective.
Let’s take a look at two examples of exclusive flirting.
Part of you want is to lay on the beach, get a tan, or just relax and do nothing.
But another part of you wants to work hard, live out your life goals, and make a difference in the world.
Part of you wants to get lean, but another part of you would rather eat brownies and ice cream.
Part of you wants adventure, but another part wants security and routine.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins calls this “an internal civil war.” It’s a war that can trap you in limbo, getting none of the things you really want.
These internal conflicts sap your energy. We end up stagnant, never really committing to either side. When that happens, you miss out on living up to your potential. And you miss out on some of the best things in life.
This dynamic can really cripple a relationship.
There are so many uncertainties when it comes to romance. If you focus on those uncertainties, something terrible happens. You forget to go after anything specific. It’s easy to let your passion wither away and die.
That’s no way to live. Personally, I want to embrace passion. I’d rather be wrong sometimes, but live all out.
So here’s what I do. When I’m not 100% sure that I’m making the right call, I give myself permission to be wrong. Instead of waffling in limbo, I make a decision and get behind it. I don’t want to waste my energy. I want to live.
Hey, it’s James again. Here’s day 2 of your 14 day attraction tips course.
It’s just a preview of the kind of advice and insights I offer.
That way, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to stay on my subscriber list.
If you already know you don’t want ideas and relationship insights from me, just click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any of my emails.
Today I’m going to remind you of something you already know. Something important but easily forgotten. Something that tugs at a man’s heart.
They are the things that make you smile when you think of him. The things that made you fall in love with him.
They were there when you first met him. That’s why you said yes when he asked you out.
They are the things hidden in his heart that you admire, appreciate and trust. It’s a beautiful thing when you first recognize those gems in his character.
Basically, that’s what falling in love is. It’s seeing into another person’s heart and desiring what you find there.
But then you hit a snag.
When we first begin a relationship with someone, we’re attracted to the possibility of what the relationship could become. It’s an exciting new adventure.
As that possibility becomes a reality, it’s intoxicating… for a while. And then the intoxication seems to fade.
Usually, it fades for one person sooner than it does for the other person. And it fades because you get used to the things that initially made your partner seem special.
When that magical feeling becomes an everyday feeling, it’s easy to stop looking for potential in your partner. Instead, you fixate on the ways he’s different from you, the things you don’t like. And you can easily forget all about the things that initially attracted you to him.
In a long-term relationship, it’s normal for the feelings of infatuation to come and go. When feelings of infatuation are low, you stop fixating on the things you find attractive about him. You see him as a normal person. The sense that he’s “perfect” reveals itself to be an illusion.
When that illusion breaks, the magic withers and some relationships die.
If that’s happened to you, I have some good news. Recovering that special connection isn’t all that difficult.
Everything was going great. Karen was happy. Really happy. Her relationship with Doug was three months old. They’d enjoyed a thrilling, fun period of getting to know each other, and that’s when the trouble started.
“What’s the problem?” a friend asked her.
“Life,” she said. “We both have big projects coming up at work. His schedule is going to get crazy, and I’ll be super busy. We’re in this routine, and it’s all about to change.”
Her friend nodded.
Karen sighed. “I just like things the way they are.”
That’s the way it goes. We crave success, especially in relationships, but once we’ve found it we discover the unexpected enemy. Change.
It’s inevitable. Your relationships will evolve over time. You can’t stop that from happening. But when you find yourself in a comfortable place, the idea of change becomes very uncomfortable.
The kind of change doesn’t matter. Any change is likely to be perceived as a threat. It could be the amount of time you spend together. Or the pull of outside influences and responsibilities, like your job, family or friends. Or even the adjustment from infatuation to a deeper sense of companionship.
Regardless of the source, change can feel threatening for one simple reason: because it makes it hard to see the future.
When we feel threatened by something, we tend to resist it. Makes sense, right? But with change, that’s a bad idea. Resisting change typically means either burying your head in the sand in an attempt to ignore it or forcefully pushing against it. Neither works.
As the ancient philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” In other words, change happens. Nothing you can do will make it stop. Ignoring it only means it’ll run over you, taking you by surprise. And fighting it is totally useless.
So what do you do?
Can you keep a secret?
I’m going to reveal my number one source for dating insights.
Okay, it’s not really classified. It’s just a place a lot of people don’t think to look.
But when I really need to know why one of my clients has been struggling with relationships, this is where I turn.
My source? Her friends.
Think about it. Your friends have a front row seat to your social life. They watch you flirt. They know what kind of guys you go after. They even see how you react when a guy approaches you. They know you—every mannerism, personality trait and all your quirks.
If you’re not getting dates, they know why. The question is, do you really want them to tell you?
Think about that carefully before you jump in.
If you decide to go for it, there are two keys to getting info that actually helps.
The first is asking the right people. Some of your friends won’t want to give you critical feedback. Afraid of hurting your feelings, they’ll only tell you what they think you want to hear. That’s nice and all, but it doesn’t really benefit you.
On the other hand, you may have friends who would be a little too eager to tell you what you’re doing wrong. Ask one of them, and they’ll heap negative comments on you. Best case scenario, you’ll walk away feeling trashed. Worst case, it’ll start a fight.
While all your friends have inside information about you, make sure you only ask one or two who will give you honest feedback with the sole goal of helping you.
Love is a paradox.
Those who are clearly on a quest to be loved end up weakened by their efforts. Their hearts are always on their sleeves. They’re dependent on others to make them feel whole. It’s a desperate way to live.
But those who give love away without agenda are some of the strongest people in the world.
Of course, every one of us wants to be loved. To feel valued and accepted. We’re hardwired with a very real desire to feel deep, meaningful connections with other people. That’s just a part of being human.
However, getting the love you want is a counter-intuitive process. To get it, you have to give it. When your top priority is being loved rather than giving love, you put yourself in a powerless position.
It’s all about accepting what you can and cannot control.
While it’s certainly nice to be loved, you can’t force others to feel a certain way about you. Not even the man in your life.
If your top goal is to feel loved, you’ve set your sites on something you can’t actually control. You’ll end up worried and anxious because the thing that matters to you is totally out of your hands.
Sure, you can try to appease the man you’re with. Sadly, a lot of women take that approach. But the end result is rarely what you’re really after.
Granted, it sucks to get burned. You trusted someone, and they let you down.
Maybe they cheated on you. Maybe they lied. Maybe they didn’t follow-through on a really important promise.
The temptation when that happens is to allow the experience to carry over to the next dating encounter we have. That’s never a good thing.
The disappointment you feel when someone you’re interested in lets you down can be profound. Even if it’s a small thing, that kind of pain lingers.
And when it’s something big, like a full-on cheating situation, it can leave you bitter and angry with the opposite sex for months or even years.
A well-known quote comes to mind: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Of course, you’re no fool. You’re smart enough to avoid repeating the same mistake. If one of your mistakes was trusting someone who wasn’t worthy of your trust, you’re savvy enough to learn from it.
And really, that’s smart, provided you remember did you wrong.
Have you ever wondered why he likes you?
What is it about you that he enjoys most? It’s an important question to ask.
Unfortunately, a lot of people simply don’t ask. They assume they know why their partner is into them. That’s a big mistake, and here’s why.
Like the rest of us, psychologists want to know why people choose to spend time with them. In fact, they’re so invested in the question that they’ve done studies to determine what makes therapy meaningful for their clients.
Here’s where this gets interesting.
Are your dates beginning to feel a little stale and predictable?
It happens. Dinner and a movie is exciting the first time you share it with someone new, but it can become ho-hum after a while.
So what do you do to inject some energy and passion into your dates? I recommend you make a date out of the process of searching for “the perfect date.” Let me explain.
Here’s how you do it.
Start with a conversation. You and your partner go out to dinner with one item on the agenda. You’re going to engineer the most exciting, unforgettable date you can imagine.
And I mean that. Let your imagination run wild. This is a brainstorming conversation. No idea is too outlandish. Don’t worry about being realistic or sticking to a budget. If your perfect date would include a flight to Paris, that goes on the list. Silly things are okay, too. Still kind of fond of those Friday nights in middle school you spent at the roller skating rink? Put that on the list!
Don’t be shy during the brainstorming session, and don’t worry about sounding selfish. Even if there are things you want to do that you know your partner hates, list them. Later on the two of you can work together to find creative compromises. The goal during this first conversation is to get it all out there.
Today I want to inspire you to do something simple. It’s simple because it’s what you already do best.
But before I get to that I want to talk about the energy you bring to your relationship interactions. I’d like to challenge you to take responsibility for the energy you bring.
The term “responsible” is kind of heavy and not very fun. So maybe I’m not bringing the right energy to my writing today. Let me try again…
I’d like to challenge you to do more of what makes you awesome!
Relationships are wonderful things, yet they always have problems of one sort or another. Sometimes you can solve those problems quickly and easily, sometimes not. Either way, problems deserve some attention to see if they can be solved.
But… (and this is a big but)… You don’t want problem-solving to rob your relationship of the fun and joy it could otherwise have.
You see, in long-term relationships this is one of the big killers of passion and desire. Two people are drawn together by fun, attraction, and compatibility.
Then a few problems arise. As a result, one or both partners enter problem-solving mode. And that would be fine so long as you remember to exit the problem-solving mode when you’re not actively working on problems.
Why do you need to exit problem-solving mode?
Arthur Ashe is credited with saying, “Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.” That’s the conventional wisdom. We think of trust as something people earn from us.
But is that the best way to build trust?
Surface level trust is common. It happens all the time. But finding someone you can trust with your life is a much taller order. That kind of trust requires a more proactive approach.
In other words, sitting back and waiting for the guy you’re dating to earn your trust isn’t likely to create a deep sense of loyalty. If you want that kind of trust, you’ll have to build it on purpose as a couple. And how do you do that? By doing something that’s both simple and terrifying.
Give it away.
I know that sounds weird. It flies in the face of how we think trust is built. You don’t just give it to people. They’re supposed to earn it. But let’s think this through. Suppose you trust me with a small amount of money, and I handle it responsibly. If I need a bigger loan later on, you’ll be more likely to agree.
The practice of giving trust builds trust. But that’s just the beginning.
To create a really deep sense of trust, you and your partner will need to know what issues are the most important to you. You’ll have to openly share some pretty personal information. This is, itself, an act of trust. And once you both know the other’s core fears about trust violation, you’ll be able to practice giving each other trust in those specific areas.
Here’s a practical example.
Any time you hit a brick wall and lose momentum, there’s a good chance you have run up against a bottleneck, a constraint that holds back your progress. When you find ways to remove those constraints, it becomes possible to make a lot of progress really fast.
Jessica owns a small salon. She built the business on her own from the ground up. At a few years in, she’s done well. Until recently, that is.
Her client schedule is booked solid. In fact, she also has a waiting list. She’s hit a critical point of growth. She can’t manage it all on her own any more. A bottleneck has formed. The bottleneck is the limited amount of time she has in a given work day.
Each year around Valentine’s Day, food and recipe magazines feature articles about aphrodisiacs. I’m sure you’ve seen them. The idea is that snacking on certain foods will put couples in the mood for something more intimate.
To be fair, the things we eat do produce chemical reactions in our bodies. In that sense, the notion isn’t that far-fetched.
The list of foods that get labeled as aphrodisiacs includes chilies, avocados, honey, almonds, pomegranates and even oysters. The most common explanation for their alleged libido-boosting power is a combination of antioxidants and vitamins your body relies on for sexual function.
So, what’s the problem? With one notable exception, there just isn’t much evidence that any of them work.
In fact, sometimes the origin of a food’s sex-drive-inducing potential shows just how unlikely the myths are. Take avocados, for example. The Aztecs dubbed the avocado “the testicle fruit” because of the way they hang from tree branches in pairs. That’s not exactly hardcore science.
But there’s more. Even if antioxidants and vitamins can create an effect on sexual desire, your body doesn’t absorb that stuff and put it immediately to work. While there is evidence that a man will be friskier the next day if he eats a meal high in saturated fats the night before, it’s unlikely that any snack will put him in the mood in the next few hours.
Except one. A very special kind of “magic bean.”
It’s the formula for classic romance. It’s why Harry runs to Sally in the middle of the night in When Harry Met Sally. It’s why Noah tells Allie, “We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you,” in The Notebook. And it’s why Mark makes his “just as you are” speech in Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Sometimes opposites attract.
We can easily fall in love with people who are very different from us. It’s common for us to be drawn to people who are very much like us in some ways, and very different in others. It can make for an exciting adventure.
And, it can also be trying.
As a relationship develops, we inevitably reach the point that we have to deal with those differences. Some of the very things that were interesting and cute at first have the potential to become real obstacles later. What do you do, then?
Traditional couple’s therapy says to work toward improving positive feelings and interactions by encouraging both of you to change. Break the habits that frustrate the other person, undermining your connection. Embrace the things that build the two of you closer. It’s a proven method.
But there’s another approach.
Nothing is better than falling in love.
But…it’s not always in your best interest to be exclusive early in the relationship.
Let me explain why.
First, a quick story to illustrate something important.
I received a letter from a division of the US military requesting that I work for them part-time and also join the reserves. They have an interest in a particular set of unusual skills I share with a very small portion of the US population.
I called the recruiting officer to discuss the details of their offer. It all sounded pretty good. They wanted to pay me a lot of money for a very small amount of my time. There was only one problem.
The problem was they also wanted the exclusive right to force me to leave my relationship coaching practice and social life behind if they ever needed my services for a protracted war overseas.
That would essentially give them the power to shut down my livelihood, which would dwindle and possibly disappear by the time they let me come home if I was ever deployed.
Here’s how this relates to dating men. A lot of women are frustrated with how slow men are to commit. As a result, they push for an exclusive relationship as soon as he is willing.
Being exclusive is the end goal. I’m not arguing with that. But being exclusive is not enough.
Everyone likes small, unexpected gifts. But if you want to surprise your man with something pleasant, flowers and chocolates aren’t the way to go.
Instead, you need to think outside the box. Below you’ll find a list of 9 simple things you can do to delight the guy in your life. Every one of them is quick and inexpensive, but the payoff in your relationship can be huge.
1. Dress up. I’m not talking about full-on formal wear, and I’m not talking about dressing provocatively, either. This is as simple as wearing an outfit he likes or taking the time to do your hair and make-up, even for a casual day of hanging out.
Guys are visual creatures. When you take the time to dress in something he likes, it shows that you’re thinking about him and you want him to be thinking about you, too.
2. Little reminders. A note before work. A call during the day, just to tell him you’re looking forward to seeing him later. Anything short and sweet that lets him know he’s on your mind.
The key here is to keep it simple. You don’t have to write a sonnet. A sentence or two is enough. If you really want to go all out, bonus points for racy pictures sent discreetly in the middle of a stressful day.
She steps out of the fitting room, still fidgeting with the dress. He can see the question on her face before she says anything.
“How does it look?” she asks.
They’ve been at it for more than an hour, trying to find the perfect dress for the party. He’s having a hard time telling one from another. And, honestly, he thinks this one looks as good as the last three. He tells her so.
“Looks great,” he says without hesitation.
She turns away from him and looks herself over in the full-length mirror.
“I don’t know,” she says. “I think I’ll keep looking.”
He sighs, and the shopping expedition continues.
The above scenario is a common one. So much so that researchers from the University of Arizona used this very example to describe their findings in a recent article. “…men cooperate to avoid conflict,” the article states. “Women, meanwhile, tend to serve as ‘emotional regulators’ during cooperation and try to get at the root of a problem rather than brush it off.”
In other words, he’s agreeing so they can both move on. He’s really saying, “This dress will work just fine—now, let’s go do something else.” But she’d rather make sure she’s found the best possible solution. She’s saying, “I’m not completely satisfied. Let’s explore this further.”
Is any of this familiar?
You’ve heard it your whole life: Knowledge is power. This simple phrase is so deeply ingrained in us that we don’t question it. Why would we? It’s one of those things practically everyone accepts as fact.
There’s just one problem. It isn’t true.
Knowledge isn’t power. Knowledge is potential power. Or, to quote Dale Carnegie, “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” The difference is profound.
Consider this common example. You’re in the middle of a disagreement with your partner. It’s frustrating, tense and uncomfortable. You’re certain your perspective is right, and he’s certain his is.
The two of you push and pull, dragging the conflict out. But, at some point during the fight, you see clearly how silly it is. Like most arguments between couples, it wouldn’t even be that hard to stop. One of you just needs to validate the other’s point of view. You could do it, but you won’t get the satisfaction of feeling like you won.
At that moment, you have knowledge. You know how to stop the conflict. However, that knowledge isn’t power because you haven’t put it into action yet.
The real power of love…well, if you’ve ever experienced it, I don’t need to explain. Inside, it can feel like you have discovered a well of eternal joy.
Giving expression to that love can feel like the purpose of your life. You feel a powerful desire to actively love. It’s selfless and pure.
But how do you express love of this intensity without giving him relationship vertigo? No matter how powerful the feeling inside, you can never fully express it in the pure form you find within.
I saw this quote on Pinterest and it made me think of some of my relationship coaching clients:
“I show affection for my pets by holding them against me and whispering, “I love you,” repeatedly while they struggle to break free.”
How can you express your passion without overwhelming your man or causing him to question your sanity?
Here are a few ideas I’ve picked up from various people over the years. There are many more, but these are a few I like in particular.
Make every kiss count. The key here is quality not quantity. Make sure the kisses you exchange are memorable and meaningful.
You can express deep affection by letting a kiss linger longer. The key is slowing down at the end of the kiss when you are parting. It’s the opposite of the quick peck on the cheek with no eye contact as you rush out the door for an appointment.
Alternatively, kiss him again right after you’ve just finished kissing. A smile right after a kiss sends a really warm message too.
Kristen believes her soulmate is out there. She’s attractive and engaging, so she gets asked out fairly often. Unfortunately, her relationships rarely last beyond the third or fourth date.
When asked why that is, she says, “I only date a guy if I have a special feeling about him. I don’t want to waste my time with a guy unless that magic connection is really strong.”
She goes on to explain that three or four dates is about how long it takes to see if a guy is what she envisions her soulmate to be. If there are any feelings that he does not get her on an intuitive level, she moves on.
Like Kristen, I love the idea that each of us is destined to find a soulmate. It’s romantic. Unfortunately, it can also make finding the right partner harder than it needs to be.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with holding out for the right person. I applaud that. But being selective and putting all your faith in destiny are two different things.
Just look at Kristen. She bolts at the first sign of difficulty. She honestly believes that finding the right person means the relationship will develop without hiccups.
Here’s the problem with that. Men and women are terrible at reading each other’s minds.
Most dating relationships begin with a period of infatuation. That’s when things feel truly magical. During that phase of the relationship, it’s common to feel like he’s somehow gained access to your inner thoughts and desires. Almost like he is reading your mind.
But as we get to know each other better, the infatuation fades. No matter how great a guy is, you’ll discover that he isn’t perfect. Like everyone else, he has flaws.
Those flaws, combined with yours, will invariably lead to misunderstandings and rough patches. If you’re expecting turbulence-free love at first sight, it’s easy to feel discouraged at that point. Enough so, that you decide you’ve made a mistake and lose interest in the potential relationship.
The key question is this. Do you believe destiny causes good things to happen to you, or do you put more stock in the idea that we create our own happiness? Is it fate that leads some couples to bliss, or is it their willingness to invest effort and energy into the relationship?
Personally, I think it’s both.
Is it better to channel your anger into productive communication, or just go to your bedroom and scream into a pillow before slugging it a few times?
For a couple of decades psychologists thought you needed to “release your anger,” by punching pillows, giving a primal scream, or ripping up paper. The belief was based on intuition. We really didn’t have any science to tell us whether that was helping or not. It just felt right.
But for most of the last two decades psychological studies seemed to support the other side. Studies showed anger gets stronger when you punch pillows. By slowing down your breathing and pondering solutions (rather than revenge imagery), angry feelings dissipate better than they do if you try to “release them.”
It might not surprise you to learn that some family therapists and mental health therapists still believe there is value to releasing your anger. And one thing everyone agrees on is this. Suppressing anger is unhealthy.
“I’ve seen men put more effort into finding a movie to watch on Netflix Instant than composing a coherent message to ask a woman out,” said Anna Goldfarb, 34, an author and blogger in Moorestown, N.J.
A typical, annoying query is the last-minute: “Is anything fun going on tonight?” More annoying still are the men who simply ping, “Hey” or “sup.”
That’s from a recent article published in the New York Times about the changing landscape of dating in the modern world. Sound familiar?
Facebook, Twitter, text messages and online dating sites have certainly shaken things up. A couple of decades ago, if a guy wanted to ask you out he had to do it in person or over the phone. You know, using his actual voice. Today, he can message you and he doesn’t even have to use complete sentences.
And it’s not just the way we arrange dates that’s gotten a make-over. The dates themselves are often less formal. Instead of dinner and a movie, the new standard is the hang-out date. You’re lucky if he buys you a drink or a cup of coffee. What’s more, that date may even include a group of his friends.
Shortly after meeting each other, Harry turns to Sally and declares, “You realize of course that we could never be friends.”
“Why not?” Sally asks.
Harry continues: “What I’m saying is–and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form–is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.”
In this classic scene from When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal’s character asserts that physical attraction will always keep men and women from embracing true friendship. Harry sees friendship as a bond between two people that must exclude romantic feelings.
Can a man and woman be best friends?
Some people say the best relationship is one that allows you to act like lovers and best friends at the same time. But what does it mean to be “best friends” with a man?
I suppose that depends on what your definition of friendship is to begin with. I see friendship as a bond between two people who value each other for reasons that have nothing to do with romantic feelings. This definition does not suggest you cannot also be in love with your best friend.
Friendship is born when two people walk a shared path together. Each one expands their sense of self, their outlook on life, to include the other. They share their highs and lows. They team up to accomplish things. They have fun together, do work together, help each other, support each other, and bond throughout the process. It doesn’t matter if you’re venting about your day, painting your nails, moving furniture, or going to dinner–friendship is about sharing your life with someone else, the good and the bad.
While romantic chemistry might have sparked your relationship, the relationship will never be all it could be if you and your partner do not also develop a solid friendship. Friendship builds slowly, while feelings of attraction blossom fast.
Attraction is wild. It’s like a spark that ignites a fire. Friendship, on the other hand, is a slow burn. It’s all about companionship, loyalty and respect. Can a romantic connection really be complete without those traits?
Mae West said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
Are you doing it right? Are you spending your time, effort and energy on the things that are really worthwhile? Or are you holding back?
Don’t hold back. Spend all your life pursuing (all out) the things you believe to be worthy of your life.
The core message I want to communicate to anyone who looks to me for guidance is a simple one. Live your life to the fullest. Spend every moment you can pursuing what matters most.
It’s definitely one of those “easier said than done” type messages. There are always good reasons to hold back. Things like holding down a job, obligations to friends and family, and even the daily race just to tick off everything on your to-do list.
All of that stuff takes up time and energy. Sure, it’s noble to live life to the fullest, but many of us feel we simply don’t have the luxury of making that a reality.
The thing is, I believe in you. I believe if you look deeply within yourself, you will find there are things you believe in that are worthy of your time, energy, and full pursuit… even in the face of hardship.
Of course, the biggest reason we hold back is even more basic. We’re afraid of failure.
Hey, It’s James. Back with another quick tip for relationship success.
Tell me if you can relate to this situation…
It was unexpected. But, then again, such moments always are.
The conversation reached a natural conclusion. Normally, that would have prompted them to find a new topic, but not this time. Instead, he looked at her and she looked at him.
For a moment, that’s all there was. Just silence, pure and profound. It was powerfully intimate.
The beginning of any relationship is filled with near-constant chatter. We’re so excited to get to know the other person, sometimes we literally talk for hours.
But the first milestone of deep connection isn’t something said. Instead, it’s when you can comfortably sit with someone and say nothing at all.
To be clear, I’m not talking about a mere lull in the conversation. This isn’t the kind of silence that happens when your mind is wandering, either. These are moments of rare mutual desire to embrace another person through the silence. It’s like saying, “Just your presence is enough for me.”
When you reach the first moment of that kind of silence in a romantic relationship, you know something special is happening. The hard part is not spoiling it.
To make the most of that beautiful moment, I’d like to offer two suggestions.
Which is better? To avoid mistakes altogether, or to watch for your mistakes, expecting them on a daily basis?
The answer may surprise you.
Back in the 90’s, IBM built a computer called Deep Blue. It played chess. In 1997, it actually beat Garry Kasparov, a world champion. Unlike human players who rely on intuition, it worked by calculating thousands of potential moves every second. And, it was good enough to take down a human world champion.
In contrast, TD-Gammon is a computer program that plays another classic game–backgammon. But instead of being pre-programmed with an extensive knowledge-base, it’s programmed to simply learn from its mistakes. Each time it plays someone, it makes adjustments to its strategies based on what worked and what didn’t.
When Deep Blue was fired up for its now famous match against Kasparov, programmers had to use a crazy-complex cooling system just to keep the thing running. It takes a lot of power to shuffle through every possible move every second! TD-Gammon, on the other hand, becomes more efficient the more it plays. Like a person, it learns from its mistakes and becomes a better player over time.
So, which is better?
– Duke (James Garner), The Notebook (2004)
Duke got it. Success is as simple as real, lasting connection with another person. This is true for both women and men. We’re all hardwired to crave relationship.
Our connections with other people give life its greatest purpose.
But sometimes men lose sight of this basic truth. By nature, men tend to focus on goals and achievements, and it’s easy for non-relationship goals to take center stage.
That’s fine when it happens for a short while. It can even be good since it allows for razor-sharp focus. The problem occurs when a man forgets to bring his attention back to his relationship with you once a mission has been accomplished.
Let me explain why this happens to men. Imagine what life was like for humans thousands of years ago. Men were typically hunters. The man would leave his family and go out into the wild to find food.
Why? Because he loved his family and wanted to provide for them. Relationship was his ultimate goal. By hunting, he was providing for his family. When he succeeded, he felt joy because of what it meant for his family.
But the thrill of the hunt, developing new skills, and seeking prestige among fellow hunters can cause a gradual shift in attention. Seeking success in hunting can gradually remove his focus from his partner or family.
The same thing happens to modern man. The rat race is fierce. It takes intense focus to climb the corporate ladder, stay out of debt, win the approval of friends and family.
When a man invests himself in his job to the degree that he forgets the rest of his life, we call him a “workaholic.” Like a prehistoric hunter, his job can steal his focus.
Sadly, guys don’t even need jobs for this effect to play out.
Young men in college can become distracted while building the perfect physique, or trying to become popular. Even the quest for the ultimate bro-adventure can become an obsession.
While this is happening, he may pay lip service to the woman in his life, saying she’s the most important thing. But in reality, she’s only getting the left-over scraps of his attention.
His passion is pointed somewhere else. She may even be reduced to just another “accomplishment.”
Of course, eventually those non-relationship accomplishments reveal themselves to be empty. If he’s lucky, he sees that quickly. For some unfortunate men, it takes years.
Ruth Wakefield thought she’d made a mistake. She expected the chocolate to melt. It didn’t. But guests of the Toll House Inn loved the dessert anyway, and chocolate chip cookies were born.
There are times in life when success catches you off guard like that. In spite of your best planning, things can go horribly wrong or unexplainably right.
Of course, you can learn a lot by reflecting on your own stories of success. But sometimes the best course of action is to skip the analysis and simply do what you did again.
We call that “modeling” behavior. It’s a powerful technique, whether you’re modeling your own behavior or someone else’s.
In fact, one of the fastest ways to accomplish a difficult task is to find another person who has already mastered it. Then, just do what they did. Model their success-building behavior.
It doesn’t even matter if you understand exactly why that behavior led to success.
We rely on things every day that we can’t explain. For example, when you walk into a dark room, what do you do? You flip the light switch. You may or may not understand the details of how electricity works. With modeling, you don’t have to understand all the details before getting results. Modeling success is a shortcut to getting results.
Of course, there’s value in understanding how and why things happen. Ultimately, you should find the time to reflect on your moments of success. When you understand the underlying mechanics, you’re even better equipped to be successful in the future.
But when you’re facing a tough challenge and have no idea where to start, modeling successful behavior is always a good first step.
Healthy boundaries aren’t just good for your relationship. They’re essential.
In fact, it’s nearly impossible to have a mature, healthy relationship without boundaries. The problem is that most of us think of walls when we think of boundaries, and that gives the impression of closing yourself off. But that’s not really what healthy boundaries do.
Deepak Chopra uses a powerful metaphor to describe boundaries in a relationship. He says they’re like a screen door. A good screen door will allow a cool breeze to come in while keeping leaves and bugs out. Said another way, well defined boundaries keep the bad stuff out while still allowing the good stuff into your life.
No one out there is perfect. Any guy you date is going to have flaws and imperfections, just as you do. And, there’s simply no way to check our baggage at the door when we start dating someone.
If you have no boundaries in your dating relationship, yes, the two of you will be close. So close, in fact, that his issues will become your issues. That’s not a good thing.
To keep that from happening, you need to make sure you have some healthy boundaries in place. That doesn’t mean you run from your partner’s issues. It means you accept the person, but not all his various moods, habits, and behaviors.
How do you do that?
Jessica dated Kevin for 7 months. In that time, she never met his family. She was never welcomed into his close circle of friends. He was often vague about his schedule. He even avoided deep conversations, especially about the future.
After more than half a year, in spite of the fact that she still cared for him, Jessica did something about it. She dumped him.
“I didn’t see it going anywhere,” she explains. “He was just closed off to me. There’s no future in that.”
Sadly, she’s right. If a man won’t really let you into his life, that’s usually a sign he doesn’t see the relationship as a lasting thing.
Of course, guys don’t tend to open up as quickly as women.
When a guy is slow to enter into state-of-the-relationship talks, that doesn’t necessarily mean he views what you have as a fling. Many men keep their inner thoughts and feelings heavily guarded and may need some coaxing and patience to open up. There’s no need to bail at the first sign of a wall.
But if he keeps putting up walls? If he shows no indication of ever letting you in?
In that case, you have a tough decision to make.
Today we’re talking about why the feeling of love seems to suddenly disappear during arguments between lovers. But I need to start with a quick story.
A king gave his wise men a challenge. “Create a ring that will make me happy when I am sad.”
The wise men succeeded. It was a plain ring with an inscription etched into the metal. It read, “This too shall pass.”
During times of hardship, the king would notice the inscription. It would remind him that hardships always pass, even when things seem hopeless. He would stop worrying and appreciate life rather than spending all his energy trying to fix problems.
But of course, the ring had an opposing effect as well. Whenever he felt jubilant, the ring reminded him that joyful circumstances change as well. Nothing lasts forever.
I used to hate this kind of story. It left me feeling empty. It drained my energy. Trying hard seems pointless if nothing lasts.
But today, I am a wiser man. If I was appointed to the King’s council of advisers, this is what I would tell him.
Minimalism is a growing trend in the world of fashion.
It refers to the idea of whittling your wardrobe down to just a few pieces that can easily be mixed and matched. It’s all about putting the essentials front and center and removing the fluff.
Really, that’s what minimalism is. And the concept can be applied to your relationship approach, as well.
You probably have a list of qualities you look for in a guy. Maybe a long list. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want and going for it. But don’t let your list of target qualities get so long and cluttered that you lose focus on what’s most important to you.
Instead, try applying the concept of minimalism to how you date.
No, the title isn’t a typo.
It may seem counter intuitive, but some of the non-romantic things guys do signal that your relationship is actually moving forward. When he does one of the following three things, don’t discourage him.
What he does: Act protective of you.
You’re not helpless. 99% of the time you don’t need a protector. But there will still be moments when a guy goes out of his way to defend you. Sometimes it shows up in an annoying form, like trying to help you with something you’re pretty good at.
What it means: He’s invested in you.
You may not be a damsel in distress, but do you really want to stop him from playing the role of prince charming?
When he comes to your aid, he’s not making a statement about your ability to be self-sufficient. Instead, he’s doing it for the same reasons you’d go to bat for a friend. Because he cares.
What he does: Include you in his adventurous play.
Anne Taylor Fleming said, “A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time.”
Any committed relationship is that way. The first hurdle is simply sharing what you want–your hopes and dreams, your wants and needs. It’s no small thing to walk out on that limb.
Once you’ve shared what you want, the next great challenge is to resist the temptation to insist that your hopes and dreams should be his hopes and dreams.
You might feel betrayed upon discovering he does not want all the same things as you. It’s an irrational human reaction that may bring up a sudden sense of anger or panic. Don’t let it crumble the relationship.
It’s unlikely your life goals will line up 100% with his.
Yes, there should be common ground. You can’t really have much of a relationship if there isn’t. But, as nice as it would be for your picture of the ideal life to sync up perfectly with his, that sort of thing rarely happens.
As in, never.
Some desires will match, and some won’t. It’s stressful and scary to see that the person you’re planning a future with has a different idea of what that future should be.
In panic, some women plead with their men, hoping to sway him via pity. Some pull out their best high-pressure sales pitch. And some cut to the chase, drawing lines in the sand and making demands.
My advice? S l o w d o w n.
Peter Drucker, the well-known business guru, once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”
In other words, you have to know how to read between the lines.
That’s true in any situation where two people interact, and it’s especially true in romantic relationships. Why? Because so much of communication is what the other person isn’t saying.
If you only pay attention to what the man in your life says, you’re missing a lot of what he’s communicating with you!
With practice, you can hone the skill of reading his unspoken thoughts. But how do you practice? By getting feedback.
When you’re in a conversation with the man in your life, notice how he says it. How is he sitting? Is his posture relaxed or tense? What about his tone of voice? What is his facial expression? And don’t stop there.
That was the easy stuff you probably already notice without even trying. But let me challenge you to go further. This is someone you know well. If you use your imagination, you can probably make some fairly accurate guesses about what he’s feeling.
This is the hard part. But if you use my formula for success, you can get feedback that’s guaranteed to hone your skill.
Men sometimes clam up.
Try as hard as you want, there are times when it feels impossible to get your guy to talk.
You’ve likely been there. You know something is bothering him. You’re sure of it. Maybe you know of a specific issue he’s dealing with, or maybe he’s just being distant. Either way, all the signs are there. He’s got a lot going on in his mind, but he won’t let you in.
If you try to pry information out of him, he doesn’t respond well. When you ask how he’s doing, he answers in a single word: “Fine.” It can be infuriating, and even scary.
If he won’t talk to you, what does that mean about your relationship? Is this a sign that something is really wrong?
The most important thing to remember at those moments is that guys and girls handle emotional stress very differently.
When you’re working through something, you likely feel compelled to talk it out. A lot of women do. Men, on the other hand, tend to wall themselves off. They tinker with the issue in their heads, trying to find a solution to the problem. But they rarely share their thought process by default.
It may sound crazy to you, trying to tackle big issues all alone like that, but many men prefer this approach.
This leaves you in a tough spot. What do you do at those moments? How can you be supportive? How can you encourage your guy to open up? And, just as important, how can you determine if the issue involves you?
Which of these apologies sounds more powerful coming from your man?
“I’m sorry your feelings got hurt.”
“I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.”
Have you ever gotten an apology that didn’t feel like an apology at all?
It didn’t really make you feel better, did it?
Apologies with qualifiers don’t work. Okay, so they kind of work. At bare minimum, they demonstrate an attempt to mend things. But they also come off sounding insincere. It’s a missed opportunity for healing.
An apology that seems to be focused on letting yourself off the hook just doesn’t have much impact. In contrast, an apology that focuses on acknowledging another person’s pain can be profoundly healing.
Men and women talk about their emotional wounds differently in close relationships. Ask a man why he is frustrated and he is likely to say he was “blown off” or “disrespected.”
In contrast, women tend to talk about “feeling hurt” by a partner’s actions. Sadly, the language we use to express our feelings sets us up for apologies that only go halfway.
Singer Tyrese Gibson recently went on a rant about how the media portrays relationships. Especially so-called reality TV shows.
“You find yourself arguing and having issues at your house and in your marriage and in your family that are directly influenced from the sh*t that you’re seeing on TV. You don’t even know it.”
Granted, Tyrese may not be the ideal relationship coach, but he actually makes a good point. Reality TV should not be your reality. You need to focus on something more positive.
Reality TV is nothing if not negative. After all, the ‘human drama’ of reality TV tends to zero in on those times when things go poorly. Epic fights and door-slamming arguments crank up the ratings. Sadly, it seems watching others mismanage their relationships is what keeps us tuned in.
Gibson argues that the cumulative effect of all that negativity is that it seeps into our lives. Before long, all that bad juju starts to impact how you think about your man. You can’t feed on a diet of cynicism and expect to stay positive! Eventually, it’ll get to you.
And it’s not just reality TV. There’s negative stuff about relationships in just about every form of media.
This is why you really need to remove some of that negativity from your life and replace it with something more uplifting.
It’s a common scenario. You like a guy. There’s been some interaction, but you can’t tell if the feeling is mutual. You flirt, sometimes with success, but you’d really like to know if you’re wasting your time. Does he like you back or not?
When that happens, the absolute best thing you can do is fake it. That’s right. Make the assumption that he does like you instead of trying to read between the lines.
Most women, and men for that matter, take a different approach. They play the role of detective, using vague clues to try to ferret out the other person’s feelings. That’s a bad idea.
Think about where your mind is when you play detective. It’s centered on self-doubt. You’re working off the assumption that he doesn’t like you and looking for evidence that you’re wrong. It feels like a safe option. After all, no one wants to assume they’re liked only to be let down. Unfortunately, you end up working against yourself.
The problem with this approach is that it plays to your insecurities. Assuming the best gives you confidence when you interact with him. He’ll find it alluring and fun. But if you’re constantly worried about whether or not he likes you in return, you’re chipping away at your “natural” way of interacting.
The result is that you simply don’t put your best foot forward.
Melissa Stetten is in her late twenties. She’s worried about getting old and “hitting her expiration date” as a model.
She puts herself through all kinds of facial treatments to maintain her youthful appearance. Ironically, she hasn’t even made it past her battle with chronic acne! So she goes through expensive treatments for that too.
Melissa talks about her face as her employee. She says she’s in a business obsessed with eternal youth. So she puts up with the facial treatments to keep her skin looking as young as possible.
What if your 20s are a distant memory? Does that mean you’ve lost your attractive appeal?
I understand Melissa’s perspective. She’s just being realistic about the need to plan her next career move. It’s not self-hate. It’s not her own obsession with youth. It’s “just business.”
What about you? Have you figured out how to “age gracefully?” Maybe I should back up a step. What does “age gracefully” even mean?
And how do you deal with aging when it’s not “just business” but something very personal, like putting your picture on an online dating profile?
You’re dating someone new, and none of your friends approve. The independent thinker in you wants to believe you know what you’re doing, thank you very much. The rebel in you wants to tell your friends where they can stick their opinions. And the crowd-pleaser in you wants to dump him and move on. What should you do?
Listen to your friends.
True story: Lisa was engaged. She was excited, of course, but her friends were wary. None of them were particularly fond of David. In fact, every member of her bridal party told her so, asking her to call off the wedding. They were that sure she was making a huge mistake.
The wedding came and went. It was a beautiful day. Fast forward a few years, and Lisa and David are no longer married. Her friends were right. He wasn’t a good fit for her. In fact, she was unhappy long before they split.
You see, Lisa’s friends know her. They know what she likes and what she doesn’t. David wasn’t a bad guy. He didn’t cheat or anything. He just wasn’t a good fit for Lisa, and her friends knew it.
Somewhere in the back of your head you hear your mother’s voice right about now. “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?”
Well, mom, that depends.
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
You don’t have to be a genius to be in a relationship. All you really need to do is try to love the other person and hope they love you back.
But something happens when you spend a lot of time with a person. You begin to see “invisible truths”. It’s the stuff you pick up on when you read between the lines.
Its stuff he never says out loud. You just gradually realize it. You know things about his desires, what makes him tick, what makes him happy, and what irritates him.
I’d like to remind you how important that information is. But first, let me tell you something I learned from a book called Talent Is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin.
He tells the stories of chess masters, golf champions, football stars, and business leaders. He explains a process by which they become extraordinary by focusing on practicing and getting feedback over time.
Colvin argues that most of the amazing experts in the world are just ordinary people who have put in the hours of disciplined practice that allow them to perceive things others cannot.
Take the world champion chess players as an example. They developed the ability to see patterns in the chessboard with just a glance as they walked past it. That’s what allows chess master, Josh Waitzkin to walk around a room while he plays 40 different chess games simultaneously against 40 people for a fundraiser event.
Being able to see patterns is just one of the many ways disciplined practice creates experts over time. Paying attention to feedback and continuously revising your strategy based on that feedback turns you into a freak. You can see patterns emerging that are invisible to other people.
How can you use this information to your advantage in a relationship? You can sidestep a common trap.
Good relationships are a balanced mix of time together and time apart. Too much of either and you’re headed for trouble. Yes, you can spend too much time together!
Take Andrea and Michael, for example. They were inseparable. It had become a joke among their friends–the two were practically joined at the hip. They had a lot of shared interests, of course, and loved spending time together.
That’s how they ended up a couple to begin with.
And, that’s why it floored Andrea when Michael said he needed space.
“What, like, this is the beginning of the end but you don’t want to say it?” she asked.
“No, no,” he said sincerely. “I love spending time with you. I just need some ‘me time’, too.”
When a relationship is new and fresh, it’s common to go full bore, spending every waking hour with your new other-half. We call it the ‘honeymoon phase’ of a relationship. Everything is exciting. It’s a time of discovery. Each hour spent together promises to be full of wonder, fun and passion.
After a while, we begin to adjust to the presence of another in our lives, but a lot of us keep up that non-stop schedule of doing almost everything as a couple.
It’s the standard line. Everyone’s heard it at least once, and most of us have actually said it. Sometimes it’s spoken with sincerity, and sometimes it’s just a lame attempt to let the other person down easy. Either way, it means the end of a dating relationship.
“We can still be friends.”
The vast majority of the time, neither party puts too much effort into a post-dating friendship. It’s mega awkward, for one. Also, even if you were friends before dating, it’s hard to work your way back to that place. You’ve been a couple with this person. Returning to the friend zone is no easy thing.
Instead, most of the time, both people go their separate ways. Apart from an occasional social run-in, very few of us try to carve out a permanent spot for an ex in our close circle of friends.
That said, what if you want to? Is it a good idea, or a disaster waiting to happen?
First, you have to think about what’s really good for you. Sure, in the wake of a breakup, you’re likely to feel the void left by the other person. You’re probably used to talking to them daily. You’ve shared your life with them. It’s weird to turn around one day and find them missing. The idea of keeping them in your life as a friend is appealing because you obviously like something about them. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have dated them!
But, sometimes maintaining a friendship is just a way of clinging to the hope that you’ll get back together. That’s likely to take the awkwardness to a whole new level, and that’s definitely not good for you. Maybe you’ll date again and maybe you won’t, but that chance is no basis for friendship.
You have to be realistic.
You can spend a lot of time with a guy who still lives in his mother’s basement.
But a guy with a lot of energy and talent makes a better catch. Unfortunately, that kind of man is usually fairly busy.
Lot’s of people (and companies) are competing for his time.
If you want to make things work with a guy who is pressed for time, consider these three strategies. There are dozens more ideas in my mini course on this topic. But I’m leaking these three ideas for those of you who take the time to read my emails.
Busy men can be easily distracted. If you want to capture his heart, you need his full attention. You want to reduce distractions from:
2.Electronic devices like TVs in a sports bar, and…
3.The mental pressure of competing time demands.
How do you do that? There’s no perfect way, but micro-traditions can help. I’m talking about very simple traditions you invite him to participate in right from the start of your interactions.
For example, you can limit competing time demands by agreeing to see each other just one night a week (say… Thursday nights at 6 PM for dinner) during an introductory phase of your new relationship. You’d be surprised how many busy men will love this idea.
Once he has figured out a time that would consistently work, he doesn’t have to think about it again. It’s like you’ve set up a system that will allow him to gradually get to know you better without the typical feelings of guilt he is used to facing when he realizes he’s gone three weeks without calling a girl he really likes.
Busy guys respond well to repeated but brief interactions. So tell him upfront you don’t expect to go to a movie afterward or talk in a coffee shop till midnight. He’ll appreciate it and his respect for you will rise along with that appreciation.
Rule Number Two for Dating Busy Men: Don’t Bid for His Time, Own His Time.
Apparently, Twitter and Facebook use can be hazardous to the health of your relationship.
It wasn’t that long ago that a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking announced Facebook increases the risk of cheating. According to the article, the temptation lies in reconnecting with an ex, which is ridiculously easy to do on Facebook.
Now we’re being told that online Twitter spats often spill over to the real world, leaving romantic partners at each others’ throats offline. This, courtesy of a study done by the University of Missouri.
Now, before you decide the folks at U of M are getting a little tech-paranoid, think about the logic behind these findings. Facebook and Twitter are all about connecting people, right? You’ve undoubtedly caught up with someone you haven’t seen in years via one of these social networks. They keep us all plugged in.
But, there’s a downside, too. People tend to be meaner online.
I’m hardly the first person to make this observation. The prevailing opinion is that the distance we feel sitting safely behind our keyboards allows us to be more candid and less tactful than we would be face-to-face.
If you tear into someone online and then see them a few hours later, things are going to be…awkward. Given the strong possibility that you came across more aggressively online than you would have in person, it’s easy to see how this dynamic can lead to some problems.
In his book, “Hardwiring Happiness” author Rick Hanson explains a secret about happiness. He calls it “taking in the good,” and here’s what it means.
There are little jewels in life, opportunities to appreciate something good. Most of the time, we acknowledge those positive experiences in passing, but we keep our main focus on problems or goals for the future.
But you can hardwire the brain for happiness with one simple change.
It’s just a simple habit. You develop the habit of “taking in the good,” which means practicing the art of appreciating the small, good things that happen on a daily basis.
Here’s why it matters.
It’s not just the accumulation of positive emotions that matters. Rather, it’s the way this small habit rewires your brain for happiness. The potential for personal transformation (and enjoying your life) is tremendous!
By practicing a focus on taking in the good things in your daily life experience, the neurons of your brain literally rearrange themselves in ways that make you more aware of good events. You actually begin to get better at consciously experiencing positive emotions.
This happens because of practice. Your brain changes into a brain that is more open to experiencing positive events.
This is the essence of what differentiates a positive, optimistic person from someone who experiences life with a constant sense of bitterness and frustration.
Can this help with dating and relationships?
Having an abundance mindset is a wonderful thing. It literally makes life more fun. It supports actions and choices that move you forward in life.
But it has an evil twin.
“Destructive abundance” is what happens when you start to achieve a lot of success and you begin to hoard that success, living in fear of losing it.
When you’re at the bottom of the barrel, you have nothing to lose. Under those circumstances it’s easier to adopt an abundance mindset.
But as you begin to acquire success in your relationships, finances, career, or anything else, you have something of value…and you don’t want to lose it.
Your mind begins to shift very slowly, often without you even noticing. Your mind shifts away from an abundance mindset and toward destructive abundance…the fear of losing what you’ve gained.
Let me tell you how this impacts relationships.
Imagine a man and woman, cuddled close on a cold night in a rickety old cabin.
The cabin has many flaws. It leaks heat during the night, bringing a chill into the air.
You can solve this problem by patching up the cracks. Or you can solve this problem by maintaining a roaring fire in the small room where you both sleep.
Both solutions achieve the same goal.
It’s okay if your relationship has a few cracks in the seams as long as you feed the fire to maintain the warmth.
Most people think they need to fix all the problems in a relationship. They feel hesitant to be their warmest, most loving self while there are small problems to be dealt with.
But sometimes it’s best to turn up the heat instead of trying to patch up little problems.
I’m talking about your warmth indicators. Here are a few of them:
“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
~ George Burns
This quote makes you laugh because it catches you off guard.
You find yourself agreeing wholeheartedly during the first part, only to find yourself agreeing again when he says something that seems to reflect an opposite sentiment at the end.
We love to feel connected. We want to feel close with other people.
But human imperfections always demand a little bit of space. That’s especially true with family members who don’t always politely respect your privacy boundaries.
So we prefer it when they live in another city. We can have all the closeness and intimacy we want in small doses.
There are certain skills and talents that I’m fairly proud of. But it’s my weaknesses I’m most proud of. Well, to be more accurate, it’s the growth I have managed in those areas that makes me glad.
For whatever reason, I didn’t start this life as an accepting person.
It’s not that I judged people, or thought myself better than them. It’s just that I didn’t let them get close if I perceived any flaws in their personality, intelligence, social skills, or whatever.
So you can probably imagine how many close friends I had. I mean, I had friends, but I never totally accepted them as “my own people,” so to speak.
If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie, Cars, you have already witnessed a version of the lesson life has taught me (but with fewer talking cars in my case).
In Cars, lightning McQueen considers the “people” of Radiator Springs too flawed and backward to be worthy of his time. The rusted, mostly ignorant “Mater” character is the worst of them.
But in the end, McQueen realizes the true value of friendship and learns to appreciate Mater for who he is. McQueen discovers the joy of fully accepting others, flaws and all.
I did that.
1. “Hey, have you seen that new show that came out about such and such?”
It doesn’t matter if you have any interest in the latest show you saw advertised. The question is just a natural-sounding opening to a discussion of the TV shows he does currently watch and enjoy.
When he says he didn’t see the new show, you follow up with, “I might check it out. I’m looking for recommendations on a good show to add to the list I record.”
Naturally, that statement pulls for a recommendation from him. And that will be valuable information.
Because you may discover a point of common interest, which makes it easy to start conversations in the future. Or, if you’ve never seen the show he recommends, you can start watching the show he enjoys. “Hey, you got me hooked on that show. Did you catch that last episode?”
There’s a formula at work here. You can use it for lots of different things.
Basically, the formula is this: Ask about something very specific. Then use the ensuing conversation as a segue to learn something about his life. You get inside information about what he likes without seeming like a creepy stalker.
An alternative example would be, “Hey, have you ever read (fill in the blank)?” Followed by, “No, I haven’t either; I was just wondering if it was any good. Have you been reading any good books lately that you would recommend?”
There’s nothing quite like having something in common to spark easy conversations that are genuinely interesting to both parties. That feeling of having something in common naturally leads to further development of a relationship.
2. “What brings back a positive feeling of nostalgia for you?
Here’s a fun experiment.
Treat everyone you meet today as if you secretly know they are going to turn out to be a close friend you can love and trust.
Guess what happens when you do this?
A deeply rooted instinct gets triggered inside you. It’s an instinct that has to do with your sense of meaning and purpose.
It’s natural that most of us exist primarily in a world of self-protection. It’s something we do in our mind more than anything else.
Our daily interactions are primarily self-centered. I don’t mean that as any kind of harsh criticism. It’s just the reality of being human.
We naturally focus on our own personal goals. Most of those goals relate to gratifying personal needs and desires.
Something interesting happens when we begin to purposefully think of others as close friends or family members. Here’s what changes.
What happens next is a domino effect.
Deeply listening suddenly becomes automatic. You don’t even have to try.
Interacting with them suddenly becomes fun. It feels meaningful because you want to give as much as you can in the relationship. You get a positive sense of meaning from enhancing the other person’s life.
These are your core relationship instincts. They sometimes get suppressed when we’re so busy with our computers, smart phones, and internal world of thoughts.
No, I don’t expect you to do this 100% of the time. But just practicing this once in a while can be good for you, especially if you are openly looking for romantic connection with someone special.
Here’s how it helps. Anything you practice becomes more dominant in your mind. If you practice thinking grumpy thoughts, those thoughts gradually become quicker to surface in your mind.
It’s amazing how often people repeat the same patterns in relationships, expecting to get different results while using the exact same strategies that led to emotional pain in the past.
You can probably guess how I try to intervene when one of my clients seems to be stuck in one of these repetitive patterns.
It’s easier said than done, but we work to identify a new approach that will leave behind key mistakes.
However, there are times when I do the opposite.
Sometimes I advise my client to continue with the same approach that led to a painful relationship outcome in the past.
Why would I do that?
The answer is quite simple. Sometimes, it’s just not your fault. Sometimes, things got screwed up because you did everything right but the guy you dated was wacky.
Many people forget this. They say things like, “That’s it! I’m done! Relationships just don’t work for me. I’m never going to put my heart out there like that again.”
Don’t get me wrong, I understand! It’s just that while my client is raving about how there is no relationship worth trying again… the face of this guy keeps popping into my mind… and I know the two of them would be perfect together!
But she doesn’t care! The last thing she wants to hear from me at that moment is, “Well, maybe you’re overreacting… because I know this guy…” That’s when I hear the door slam as she storms out of my office.
I like small changes that get big results.
I have a small change to suggest today.
You’ve probably done it before. I’m just suggesting you do it again (and perhaps more often).
“Attracting Through Irresistible Qualities”… That’s the tagline I wish I had been clever enough to think of when I started my BeIrresistible.com website.
Those of you who have been through my relationship course, What Men Secretly Want will be familiar with this next concept.
It’s easier to approach someone when you have something to give.
You tend to feel a little more awkward and hesitant to approach a stranger when there’s something you want.
Imagine you’re sitting in an airport, waiting for your flight to board. In the same waiting area there’s an attractive, eligible-looking man sitting nearby. Score!
The presence of an attractive man is one thing; finding an easy way to start a conversation with him is another.
Imagine he gets up to board the plane, and you notice he left his cell phone behind.
Suddenly, approaching him becomes very easy. You have something to give. You are the giver. In that role, you feel relaxed and confident about catching his attention.
It’s very different when you start with something you want.
You get all hot and sweaty trying to think up a good excuse for striking up a conversation. The fear is that he will see through you and know what you want. You’re not ready to reveal that level of interest. You feel awkward.
Being irresistible means practicing the mental states that cause others to feel drawn to you.
So I want to encourage you to get into a particular frame of mind more often. I’m talking about the frame of mind of someone who is a giver.
My friend often finds herself smiling in the dark just after switching off her bedside lamp.
She has a daughter named Claire. Claire is an adorable five-year-old who was born with a heart defect that has already required open-heart surgery once.
The smallest airborne virus poses a particular threat to Claire’s body because of her vulnerability to life-threatening pneumonia.
Fortunately, Claire’s mother has some good coping skills for dealing with the stress. Each night, before drifting off to sleep, she and her husband recall the funny things Claire has done during the day.
Claire has an adventurous spirit. She’s always laughing, inventing games, or trying to argue her way out of punishments for ideas she took a little too far.
My friend practices the art of “taking in the good,” which is the term used by neuroscientist, Rick Hansen in his book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.
By recounting the funny things Claire did during the day, she develops the habit of appreciating what is good.
Rick Hansen advises us to practice this with all kinds of small things. He gives a personal example of peeling an orange, which he does several times each day.
He allows himself to focus on the delicious citrus smell as he peels the orange… purposefully allowing himself to wonder at the fact that no one else has ever seen the inside of this particular orange.
He allows himself to slow down and savor the taste of the orange inside, purposefully appreciating the good flavor.
He calls this “taking in the good” because it is a mental act of encouraging the mind to focus on the good things in life… even the seemingly insignificant good things.
By doing so, we actually rewire our brains over time. We develop a mental habit that causes us to be happier people.
It happens gradually. The brain develops stronger neural circuits associated with the habit of noticing what is good and appreciating the small things in life as it unfolds.
I think people who meditate have known this for years. But it’s fun to see scientists unraveling the brain science behind these benefits.
Because you read my emails, you know I put a high value on happiness. I value happiness for its own sake. But there is a very powerful side benefit. Which is that happiness tends to attract positive relationships.
This Is How “Internal Chemistry” Makes You More Attractive
There’s a powerful saying that goes like this…
“You attract people by the qualities you display. You keep them by the qualities you possess.”
This saying means two things.
It’s the second part that poses a problem. It takes a lot of faith to believe that.
It takes faith to believe other people will ever discover the qualities you have worked your entire life to embody.
But now consider the wisdom captured in this next saying:
“Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”
This is internal chemistry. I’m talking about mixing two powerful ideas…ideas that change you when you dwell on them.
Here are the complementary ideas stated in a slightly different way. Notice how powerful they are when combined together.
One of the scariest things in a relationship is “the talk” about where things are going.
It’s my opinion that the best time to have this kind of discussion is before a serious relationship develops.
Here’s how you do it.
After you say this, he will realize he’s just had a miniature version of “the talk” with you. He’ll be amazed at how relaxed he felt, which is an uncommon experience for most men when discussing relationship issues.
When you first start dating someone, everything is new and exciting. When he does something romantic, it feels special. But the longer you are with a partner, the more trapped you both become by the assumptions and expectations you both develop for what “should” happen.
I might have certain expectations about the relationship I’m in. For example, I might think my partner:
What happens when my partner violates one of these expectations I unconsciously hold? I feel irritated. I feel like she has not acted like a good partner. Of course, these are just my idiosyncratic expectations. My expectations create the potential for hurt feelings, especially when my partner does not know about them.
It’s easy to fail someone who has a lot of expectations. The solution is to become aware of my expectations and not allow them to define the quality of my relationship.
Even positive expectations can become a trap over time. I’ll give you an example so you can see the problem with it.
Let’s talk about how to create love out of thin air.
I chose this title (The Act of Lovemaking) to remind you of something important. Love is something we make. It’s not something we find.
It’s completely understandable that you want someone who will cherish you and love you for who you are. I am 100% on board with that mission.
However, I also want to offer this caution. Do not make the mistake of searching for love the way some people search for meaning. You can search for meaning your whole life, and never find it, unless you get your hands dirty trying to help someone.
When you stop searching for meaning, and instead sink your teeth into trying to make a difference in someone’s life, meaning reveals itself to you. It reveals itself in that moment because you created it. The meaning was created by your choice, the choice you made when you decided to care.
You can spend your whole life reading philosophical books about meaning, endlessly debating the true purpose of your life. Yet a feeling of meaning and connection can only be found in your decisions to care about something.
If you want a meaningful life, you have to stop looking for it and start creating it instead.
It’s the same way with love.
Some people have all the luck. And they’re the ones who never depend on it. ~ Bob Ingham
There are several radical ideas that changed my life instantly when I discovered them. One of them was the concept that “thoughts are things.”
Some days are full of anxious emotions like worry and fear, while other days are full of emotions of joy, hope, and satisfaction. It took me a long time to realize how much influence my own thoughts have on those emotions.
It’s only natural to assume our circumstances generate our emotions. It feels as if the things happening to us create good or bad feelings.
And to a large extent, life events do affect our emotions. But the way they influence our emotions is through the beliefs and perspectives we hold.
The cliché phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” changed my life, but not until I realized that thoughts are things. When I made that cliché phrase my own, and began using it to transform my experience of difficult situations, it caused me to become a more powerful person.
I mean that in the literal sense.
I don’t mean it in some kind of metaphorical or poetic way. I literally became more powerful as a human being when I adopted that transformative concept and decided to use it whenever life seemed to be trying to kick my teeth out.
That particular mental reframe helped me because I have a particular vulnerability to worry. Worry is my arch enemy. It tries to stop me from living fully and freely. It tries to stop me from pursuing my dreams. And worst of all, it tries to stop me from enjoying the fruits of my labor anytime I actually do succeed.
I can hear the worry in the background, chanting things like, “Hold on to what you have. Don’t take any risks. You don’t know what it is yet, but something really bad is about to happen so you better not get too comfortable.”
Those thoughts dominated too much of my life.
I’m living under a new paradigm now. The new paradigm says…
“I cannot control life, but I can control who I become. I choose to become a person who tries really hard. I choose to be a person who celebrates trying hard… trying hard to do what is right and to pursue the things I love in this life.
If I fail, I will fail magnificently while triumphantly looking fear in the eyes and saying, ‘You have only made me stronger.’”
“I believe in you.” It’s nice when someone says that to you, isn’t it?
But what does it really mean? They believe you exist? Of course not. They’re saying they believe in your ability to achieve something. Or they believe in your general goodness and value.
In a way, when someone says “I believe in you,” they are practicing the art of positive thinking. They are choosing to believe the best. It feels good when you are the recipient of that faith.
I recently stumbled across a survey of jokes that were voted to be among the best. I thought this one was funny…
“I saw a book called The Power of Positive Thinking and thought I should probably read that. But then I thought, ‘What the hell good would that do?’ and I walked away.”
I like this joke because it makes light of a trap many of us find ourselves in. Once the human mind starts down the track of negative thinking, it can be difficult to switch tracks. It’s not easy to suddenly decide to be a positive person.
Once the rolling snowball of negativity starts to build, it can feel nearly impossible to reverse course. But there’s one method, one simple psychological side step that can do the trick.
I’m talking about a simple mental habit. You can get the benefits today. But there is also a long-term payoff…
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
They say you never forget how to ride a bike. It’s a different kind of memory than factual knowledge.
The memory for how to ride a bike is stored as an experience, not as something you can put into words and share with somebody else.
If only we could share those experience-type memories. Then children wouldn’t need to crash their bikes repeatedly as they learn how to ride. Someone would just give them the manual that explains it all and then send them on their way.
The same thing goes for the special gift some people have for making other people feel good about themselves. If only we could put that in a manual and pass it around.
Do you know someone with that special knack, that gift for making you feel good about yourself?
It’s like your blood pressure lowers the second you see them rounding a corner to talk with you. It becomes increasingly easy to “just be yourself” around them as they repeatedly prove their full acceptance of who you are.
I’m calling this knack “a gift,” because it seems some people were just born with it. Although, I now question that assumption.
Perhaps it can be learned.
How do you learn something like this? My guess is you start with the will to succeed. And then add practice and persistence.
That little recipe seems to be the powerful formula behind many talents worth developing.
Do you want to develop the knack for making people feel good? If so, there’s one more seed I want to plant in your thoughts.
Angie was excited when she met Scott. He seemed to be everything she wanted. An embodiment of the very affirmation she held over the past two months while working with me as her relationship coach.
I knew she was truly smitten with love when she said, “He just makes my heart sing!” That phrase was a part of an affirmation we had been working on since day one.
In my initial assessment of Angie’s situation, it became apparent that she had a self-defeating belief about relationships. There are many variations of this particular belief, but the general theme of it was this: “Guys are all pigs. True romance is a Hollywood illusion.”
This was an unconscious belief for Angie. It became apparent as we began discussing what kind of guy she would be really happy with.
We were trying to get through an worksheet on building a positive vision for the kind of guy she wanted to find. We were both in tears from laughing so hard by the time we got to the sixth item on the worksheet. Because every time Angie began to say something good she would like to find in a man, she had two sarcastic reasons why such a man could never actually exist!
The more we talked about it, the clearer it became to both of us that deep down in her heart, she did not believe any man would actually rise to the challenge of joining her in a truly satisfying relationship.
Your Beliefs Determine Much of Your Reality.
So we got to work on replacing that relationship-sabotaging belief with a new, more empowering one.
What is bonding? You know when it happens, but it’s hard to describe it with words.
As I was writing this article, my efforts to put it into words repeatedly pulled my mind back to the moments when I felt it most strongly. I’m talking about those special moments where you feel comfortable in your own skin while fully connecting with another human being.
For many of us, it’s feeling comfortable in our own skin that is the problem. We can do it while alone, but we find it more difficult when trying to relate to other people. We are the social chameleons. Without even trying to we shift and change to connect and blend in with the people around us. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is the ability to bring joy to other people and build relationships quickly. The curse is the long-time investment required before someone has been with us long enough to realize who we really are. They have to spend a lot of time watching us shift with different colors in different situations before they are able to see the full rainbow that captures the essence of who we really are.
The title of this article is actually somewhat misleading. It’s misleading because many people shift their colors naturally and automatically, not because of a constant need to fit in.
You are not needy, just adaptable. In fact, you might think of this interpersonal characteristic as an indication that someone is selfish. You work to allow other people to feel comfortable. You do so not to manipulate them, but as a knee-jerk response that stems from a genuine desire to make other people feel at ease.
As a dating coach, one of my goals is to remove barriers that might prevent deep romantic bonding with an ideal partner. Some of the sweetest women I know get snapped up out of the dating market slower than counterparts with less desirable qualities. I believe the reason sometimes has to do with the longer time frame required before a man feels like he is connecting with the real woman behind what he perceives as shifting social masks. A man may fail to recognize that she is not wearing a variety of different social masks to keep him at bay, but rather demonstrating the full variety of her true colors.
I don’t have any magical solutions for this problem, but I do have a few tips that you might keep in mind if you are a person with the gift of fitting in.
Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Joy is attractive. Foster joy in your life any chance you get.
My personal belief is that joy emanates from a deep sense of meaning and purpose more than anything else. Yes, you need to have certain basic needs met before you really care about a sense of meaning and purpose, but even in hardship, a sense of meaning and purpose can sustain an ember of joy that warms your heart.
With meaning as the foundation of joy, relationships are the houses built on that foundation. Most of us find the greatest meaning in our lives through the relationships we are in. I think that’s a good thing, but it can be frustrating to women who find themselves in a relationship with a man who lacks the knack for sharing his thoughts and feelings.
The joy of living can sometimes be interrupted by the frustrations of dealing with a man who sits in silence, failing to share his thoughts. You can teach a man to reflect on his thinking more often and to do a better job of verbalizing his thoughts. But there’s a line you should be careful not to cross. It’s the line between wanting something, and wanting something so badly that you fail to appreciate what you currently have.
What you currently have is a man. As such, he is neurologically predisposed to periods of extended silence and compartmentalized thinking. He’s not broken. He supposed to be that way.
Johnny Depp is an amazing actor. I really enjoyed his work in Pirates of the Caribbean. However, I’m not sure I would trust his judgment on dating and relationships. I heard this Johnny Depp quote secondhand. What do you think about it?
“If you love two people at the same time, choose the second one. Because if you truly loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second.”
In case the story is not common where you live, the expression “The emperor has no clothes” is from Hans Christian Anderson’s fable The Emperor’s New Clothes, published in 1837. It was one of my favorite childhood stories (at least the Mickey Mouse Version with pictures was).
Anderson’s story reveals the foolishness of a vain king who was preoccupied with his status and appearance. A pair of swindlers took advantage of the king’s character weakness by explaining they could weave a fine cloth that could only be seen by people who were fit to be royalty (or people who were fit for office).
The king paid a high price to have a suit of clothes made from this wonderful fabric, so he could test which of his courtiers was unfit for office. When he couldn’t see the imaginary clothes the swindlers made for him, he pretended he could see them to avoid the appearance of being unfit for office himself. As he paraded the new clothes through the streets, the onlookers all pretended they could see the clothes, trying to avoid being the only one to reveal their unworthy status.
A young child, who didn’t see the point of pretending, announced, “But he has nothing on!” That burst the bubble and people began laughing, revealing they did not see any clothes either. The king was too vain to admit his error, continuing the procession as he attempted to maintain his dignity by pretending nothing was wrong.
It’s not at all uncommon for men and women to ask me about various “rules of dating.” They want to know the proper etiquette for various unique situations. They hesitate to talk openly with their partner because of a fear of revealing their ignorance regarding “the rules of dating.”
Are there any rules of dating?
What does it mean when a man claims a woman was “high-maintenance?” In the private conversations men have, what do they say to justify the high-maintenance label?
First of all, I’m not a fan of labels, particularly negative ones. But this particular label gets used enough to raise my suspicion that it might represent something real. It might represent a cluster of ideas or beliefs men have about the behavior they see in some women, but not others.
I did some research and discovered men don’t even know what the term means. Or at least they disagree about what it means. However, there were a few common themes in the majority of descriptions I gathered. Those themes revealed something interesting about what men want. I thought I’d share my discoveries.
It’s a bad thing to be labeled as a “high-maintenance” woman in the mind of a man you would like to form a relationship with. That’s really the crux of the matter, isn’t it? So let’s get to the bottom of what that label really means, so you can guard against that reputation if you so choose.
It seems men have at least one of the following three general concepts of what high-maintenance means:
Something struck me as particularly significant as I considered these broad categories that each capture core themes in the concerns men have about “high-maintenance” behavior. You see, as I studied the psychology of men, and what makes them fall for women, one of the most important principles I discovered was that men are obsessed with freedom. All three ways of conceptualizing “high-maintenance” behavior contain something that threatens a man’s freedom.
You only get twenty-four hours per day. If you could freeze time while you roamed the world, you might have better luck finding the right man before the hands of time arrested your efforts. The simple truth is, we must accomplish every aspect of living within the confines of a mere twenty-four hours per day. Those twenty-four hours go by quick!
You must arrange your life so that you can live fully within the confines of the twenty-four hours you have to work with each day. Unlike money, your time budget will never change. You can get more money, but you will never get more than twenty-four hours a day.
This realization is not comfortable or pleasant. It is, however, a necessary realization if you are going to learn to live comfortably and successfully, rather than constantly straining to achieve more than is possible with the limited time you have.
Being in a relationship, or pursuing a new relationship, requires a set of necessary sacrifices. Here are the sacrifices I recommend you make so you can be more successful with the time you have.
We’re all looking for something special.
We all want to walk away from a date with the feeling that we have just participated in something special. I’m talking about an authentic emotional connection.
What is the one thing you must always take with you on a date?
Authentic emotion. Here’s why.
People don’t make decisions about relationships based on logic. People don’t connect in a special way when the other person is putting on a performance to show their best qualities. The special connection only happens when authentic emotion bridges the gap between two people.
This becomes possible when one, or both of you, share stories or experiences the other person can relate to on an emotional level.
You may think that’s difficult to pull off with men. After all, aren’t men unemotional and disinterested in stories that have to do with emotions?
The truth is men are naturally drawn to adventures, challenges, and opportunities to get things done. But when he’s on a date, the “mission” is about making a special kind of connection with a woman. He may not be good at making that special connection happen, but it is what he wants.
Here’s how you can encourage it to happen. Touch his emotions by reflecting on a shared experience.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Perhaps the simplest dating method of all is one that focuses on yourself. Specifically, it’s a method that focuses on the actions you take each day.
To understand this principle, consider the life of Jana Briggs.
Jana is in a relationship with a man she likes very much. It is a casual dating relationship, and her love interest is currently dividing his attention between two women.
Jana is frustrated with this situation. She wants the relationship to grow, and she feels like the other woman is holding her man back, preventing him from making a decision to move toward a more serious relationship with her.
Which of the following two approaches would you advise Jana to take?
Finding the right person to spend your life with requires that you let go of many other people you meet along the way. Some dating coaches say dating is all a numbers game. You date enough people, and eventually you will find a mutually satisfying click. There is certainly some truth to this concept. The problem is, our emotions do not let go of people as easily as our logical reasoning does.
The plain truth of the matter is this. Letting go hurts. I’m not telling you to hang on to a man who’s not right for you. I’m just acknowledging the truth. It takes something out of you each time you have to release the attachment you feel toward another human being, even if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with that person.
As a relationship consultant and dating coach, I spend a good amount of time motivating my clients to get out there and take action on the dating scene. As you can imagine, my clients are not always raring to go right after letting go of a person. I have carefully observed the mindsets that seem to allow some people to let go more quickly (and with less pain) compared with others.
Here’s what I have discovered.
There is less pain when a woman focuses her mind on survival. Now allow me to explain that by defining the opposite approach. The opposite of focusing on survival is focusing on what is lost or what could have been.
It’s a terrible thing, but poachers in some parts of Africa use a special kind of trap to capture monkeys. They attach a jar to a heavy stone and bury the stone so only the jar shows on the surface of the ground. Inside the jar they put a piece of banana or other fruit. Then they stand back at a distance that makes the monkeys comfortable enough to climb down from the tree to retrieve the fruit.
As the monkey closes its fist around the fruit, the hunter charges forward with his spear. The monkey attempts a quick getaway, but the closed fist is unable to emerge from the jar. Only an open hand can fit through the narrow opening at the top of the jar. Refusing to let go of its prize, the monkey hesitates just long enough to allow the hunter to gain the proximity needed for a quick thrust of his spear.
Don’t be like the monkey. Do not be afraid to let go of the prize you have found in a man’s heart. Holding on too long gets in the way of survival mode.
Are you settling for the guy you are with?
Should you look for a better relationship when things are “just okay” in your current relationship?
Women who are currently in a satisfying relationship can still point out a few flaws in their partner. Some of those flaws may have worried them when they were contemplating a commitment.
Other women can tell you about a guy they wish they had never pulled away from. How do you know whether you are going to regret the decision later to pour your heart, life, and time into a man?
Naturally, there are several different ways you can try to make a decision about a man. But there’s one method in particular that I really like. The method I’m talking about is superior, in my opinion, because it gets right to the heart of the matter.
Let me start by asking if you know the answer to the following question. What is the number-one fear a woman has after a date that goes really well? Do you know?
The most common fear is that he won’t call again. The woman is left waiting, wondering, and feeling frustrated. No, frustrated is the wrong word. It’s more like a feeling of exasperation.
You just want to pull your hair out! Your experience with the guy says, “Yes! This went great, and he already secretly loves me just a little bit. We had so much fun!” Yet the days pass without further contact. You start to worry.
By day three, you stop measuring the passage of time in days and start counting down the hours to each deadline you were sure he would meet. “He’ll call before 8:00 PM tonight. I’m sure of it.” The minute hand on your clock gets more attention than it has in five months as you watch it pass the 8:30 mark. You, on the other hand, get none of the attention you were hoping for.
Where does this problem come from? Why do so many women go through this agonizing experience? There are several answers to this question, but I want to get you thinking about one thing in particular.
I’ll come back to this problem in a minute. First, I need to tell you something interesting I learned from a man who consults with restaurant owners to make them more money. In particular, the man I’m referring to is a consultant to high-end restaurants with pricey menus and required reservations.
Take a moment to think about why a pricey restaurant would require customers to make reservations. The answer, it turns out, is the same as the reason airline companies require that you make a reservation (and payment) to hold a seat on a scheduled flight.
You can transform your life by adopting short catchphrases you repeat to yourself often.
Big companies use this technique on you all the time. Some business people call them “micro-scripts,” but you will better recognize them with a few examples. They are short phrases that are easy to remember. They are designed to influence your thoughts about a certain company or brand. Here are some examples:
“Like a rock.” – Chevy
“1,000 songs in your pocket” – Apple iPod’s original catchphrase
“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” – The Las Vegas tourism promotional campaign
“Enterprise picks you up.” – The slogan for a rental car company
“Diamonds are forever.” – A complete game changer for the diamond industry
At other times, micro scripts are used to change people’s opinions or gather support. Here are some examples you may recognize:
“If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” – From the O.J. Simpson defense attorneys
“Guns don’t kill people, people do.” – People who don’t like gun control
“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” – A public campaign to reduce drunk-driving fatalities
These short catchphrases are powerful because they are easy to remember. They stick in your thoughts and influence your mind. What if you could harness that same ability to influence your mind by designing your own short phrases?
What do you do when a man acts in ways that hurt your feelings?
What do you do if his actions leave you feeling neglected or lonely, even when you are in a relationship? How do you communicate angry feelings constructively?
Many of the questions I receive from women around the world have a common theme. A man is not giving as much as he could in the relationship and they ask me what to do.
Here’s my advice in a nutshell.
You should tell him what you feel. But there is a specific way to do this correctly.
Done correctly, an open verbal expression of your feelings (without blame) can simultaneously spur him to action, raise your own self-esteem, and increase his feelings of attraction toward you.
Let’s discuss how it’s done.
There are two critical factors you must keep in mind. The two factors are his emotional reactions and your emotional reactions. These are the only real barriers to complete honesty.
Honesty is what we need, but we all know someone who is a little too honest, lacking emotional sensitivity in the way they express their thoughts and feelings. You don’t want to be that person.
So how do you find the balance between honesty and sensitivity?
No two situations are exactly alike, but I recommend you stick to this basic formula. Focus on describing your sad or hurt feelings while minimizing or completely leaving out the various ways he caused you to feel that way. Be completely honest about the emotions you are experiencing.
Here’s what will happen.
I have nothing against a cute headline for your dating profile. Just make sure your tagline, or sub headline, makes a statement rather than being generic.
Focus on a single, compelling idea or “angle” rather than trying to cram your whole personality into the headline.
Many women start off their dating profile with generic bits of information. The information does not seem generic to them, but it does to a stranger browsing through pictures with headlines and short taglines. Let me explain.
“Fun-loving gal, seeks emotionally mature partner who knows how to have a good time!” This is an extremely generic headline.
It has the, “I like to party,” flavor to it, but that is such a generic flavor that it is unlikely to stand out to a man who might be a good match.
It would be better if she wrote something specific. Something more likely to catch the attention of the specific kind of man she wants to end up with.
i know why you resist using specific details. It makes you feel like you are focusing on too narrow of an aspect of your life and personality. But that specific information has only one purpose. It needs to catch the attention of a man. That’s it.
If you can achieve that single goal, he will learn more about you by digging deeper into your online profile. When he digs deeper he can get a more fleshed-out understanding of your life situation, desires, and interests.
Here’s the key to a statement that is compelling rather than generic. Focus on a single, compelling idea or “angle” using both the headline and tagline.
When I was in high school, there was a girl named Stephanie who had it all. She was tall with a pretty face and a nice figure.
Her dad was one of the richest guys in town and gave her the choice of any brand-new car she wanted for her sixteenth birthday. Nearly all the popular guys in our school stood in line for their turn to date her.
I did not stand in line.
If you asked me if she was an attractive person, I would have said “yes” without a second thought. However, I was not attracted to the idea of myself in her presence. She was taller than me by a good inch. She wore clothes that made mine look shabby.
And the worst thing was her silly way of interacting with people. I was very serious during my high school years, and I took pride in the accomplishments I was already pursuing at that early age.
Stephanie liked to engage people with as much silly banter as she could. It’s not that I couldn’t see the value of that playful style of interaction; it’s just that it didn’t play to my strong suit.
I could imagine myself feeling awkward and unlikable compared to her when trying to interact with her friends. In contrast, my friends looked up to me for my tendency to deeply consider questions before responding. I had my silly side too, but I wouldn’t want to be that version of myself twenty-four-seven.
Here’s what I’m getting at…
When I am attracted to you, it means I want more of you in my life. Even beyond that though, attraction means I enjoy being me when I am in your presence.
I don’t know if you have noticed this, but you change depending on who you are spending time with.
Sometimes even the smallest decisions can fill us with doubt.
When it’s a big relationship decision we feel anxious, insecure, and sometimes miserable. This article is designed to reduce that emotional strain.
I will propose four simple steps to reduce the stress of decisions while increasing the odds that you make the right decision.
Accept the fact that you cannot see the future and therefore cannot make perfect decisions. Accept the fact that you could make the “wrong” decision, and do your best to come to terms with that fact.
Much of the emotional strain that comes during decision-making is really internal resistance. We don’t like the feeling of being out of control. Unfortunately, the future out of your control. The moment you accept that, your resistance fades, and your emotional tension fades along with it.
No one can perceive, let alone control, all the variables that will determine how things turn out in the future. As a result, you are left with the job of focusing in on the variables that matter the most to you. You are not left with the job of controlling how things actually turn out down the road.
Take full ownership of the decision. Don’t wait for others to give an approval. Don’t wait for a consensus from the people you consult with about the decision. For complex decisions, a consensus may never come about.
I believe there is a lot of value in the idea of modeling your behavior after people who have already achieved the kind of success you want in a specific area of life.
For example, if you want to get rich, you can speed up your learning by talking to people who have become rich. Learn the path they took to achieve the goal you aspire to. If you want to run an entire marathon, it helps to ask people who have succeeded what methods they used to achieve that goal.
Modeling your behavior after others is much faster than trial and error. However, when it comes to relationship decisions, you must take ownership.
I say that because you will almost certainly get contradictory advice from people who care about you.
This will add to your worry and emotional strain. That is, unless you treat their advice as nothing more than data. Data to be thrown into a pool of evidence you carefully consider while holding full responsibility for the decision you ultimately make.
When I say, “hold full responsibility” I do not mean you beat yourself up or blame yourself when things go wrong. In fact, I mean exactly the opposite. You hold yourself responsible for making the decision, not the outcome of your decision.
Remember, no one can control outcomes. We can only control the decision-making process itself. Realizing this can relieve a lot of stress. When your stress goes down, your creative intuition is easier to access.
Get clear about what you do and do not know. Make a list if you have to. When trying to make decisions, your stress will go down if you focus on what you know, rather than focusing on the things you wish you knew.
There’s this strange human tendency to experience competing drives. Procrastination is a good example of this. You want to get something done, yet you experience a competing drive to just relax or avoid the task. The result is that your energy is not fully engaged in either relaxing or getting it done.
People can actually wear themselves out through this process of competing drives that goes on all day while they accomplish nothing! Competing drives can make you feel stuck. Competing drives can prevent you from putting your full skills and talents to work.
I bet you’ve experienced the frustration of repeatedly being treated as nothing more than a friend by a man you are deeply attracted to. If this has happened to you frequently, you may be experiencing competing drives that actually create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Allow me just a moment to make sure we’re on the same page about what a “self-fulfilling prophecy” actually is. It’s a situation where you believe something is likely to happen and end up causing the thing to happen because of your belief.
Some of you may have heard of the famous research study in which teachers were given false information about all of their students in their class regarding phony IQ tests that suggested some students had a lot of potential while others had very little potential. The teachers were given the information, but not the students. Each student was given some kind of classification that was purely random, not based on any measure of their intellectual aptitude.
You can probably guess what happened. As the researchers followed the students over many months, the students who had been predicted to do well began to excel academically. Teachers didn’t mean to do it, but their actions were unconsciously influenced by the fake data they had been exposed to. They began encouraging the “rising stars” non-verbally and in other subtle ways. The teacher’s belief in a student’s capacity caused him or her to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now let’s get back to our discussion of competing drives. On the one hand, you have a drive to strut your stuff and attract the kind of attention you deserve from a man you have set your sights on. You have a desire mentally to take ownership of your attractiveness, to think of yourself as someone worthy of his attention. This sends a signal that causes him to evaluate you as a potential romantic partner.
As a dating and relationship coach I put a lot of emphasis on using positive energy and a cheerful mood to attract the kind of men who tend to make good life-long partners. Several people have asked me if they should put on a cheerful mask even when they are not feeling cheerful. It’s a good question, and one worthy of a response for others to hear.
What if I told you the answer depends on how long the two of you have been together? Would you go for that answer?
What if I told you it depends on the emotional maturity of the man you are dealing with? Would that make sense?
What if I said the answer depends on whether you feel ready to test the strength of the relationship?
Maybe the answer should come down to your own personal comfort with opening up to him about the issues that got you down. There are many factors to consider, but there is one factor that is more important than any of the others.
Here are two essential “power habits” that work synergistically to put you in contact with more quality men and ensure you enjoy the dating process as it unfolds.
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say the sweetest word in the English language is your own name. When someone addresses you by first name, it causes an automatic positive feeling. It gives you the feeling that they noticed you and connected with you on a level that made your name significant to them.
On the flipside, this is why you internally wince when you can’t remember someone’s name who cheerfully greets you by first name after having met you only once before. It’s even worse if this is the third time you run into them, and you still can’t remember their name!
Technology has been changing at an exponential rate. This is because of the fact that computers help us to develop even faster computers. The more we extend the power of our minds through the use of computers, the more powerful we become at developing technology that is useful in our daily lives.
Some of the coolest technology currently under development gets showcased at Apple’s WWDC conference (worldwide wide developer’s conference).
A philosopher by the name of Alan Watts once said, “If you put your hand on the knee of a beautiful woman and leave it there, she’ll cease to notice it. But if you gently pat her on the knee, she’ll know you’re still there. This is because you come and go. Now you see me, now you don’t.”
There’s truth in that. Many women have confided in me about their true desires for a romantic relationship. Very often their description includes something along these lines: “I want us to be together all the time, like two halves of an inseparable whole.”
It doesn’t work out very well for the very reason alluded to by Alan Watts. Any constant stimulus is subject to the brain’s capacity for adaptation. Let me explain what I mean by that.
Have you ever stared at a fluorescent green object for ten seconds and then looked at a white wall? If you have, you know what I’m going to say next. Magically, a fluorescent pink silhouette appears in your vision as you stare at the blank wall.
Why does this happen? This is because of habituation. Your eye begins to adapt to the bright colors of the fluorescent green, causing you to perceive the opposite color when the fluorescent green object is suddenly removed from your persistent gaze.
It’s the same thing that happens when someone gets rich. For a short period of time, they bask in the wealth, enjoying the sudden opulence and many benefits in brings. However, after a short period of time, the feeling of happiness fades because being wealthy becomes normal.
Surprisingly, the same thing happens after we face most types of hardship. Research studies have consistently shown that we tend to adapt to changes in our environment, essentially by getting used to them. It happens on the microscopic level in the retina of your eye when you stare at a bright object. It also happens on a more global level when you experience a sudden change in your life for the better or the worse.
We adapt to the things that remain consistent in our lives, even if we did not mean to. What does this mean for your relationships? Does it mean you should come and go, disappearing and reappearing in your man’s life? Not exactly.
I have several friends who have gone through the process of applying to medical school to become a physician. Some of them have used what’s called “the shotgun approach.”
Basically, it means they abandon the detailed research of any one medical school and instead focus their time and energy on applying to as many medical schools as possible. Instead of trying to impress the faculty of one medical school with their knowledge of the research programs going on there, they put that effort into the essays and applications needed to apply to as many as twenty schools all at once.
They figure the odds are in their favor if they apply to a lot of schools. The admission rate is low for any given school, but if you have only a 10% chance of being admitted to any one med school, and you apply to ten schools; your chances start to look pretty good compared to the applicant who carefully researched and applied to only four med schools.
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” It’s unfortunate but true. We cannot predict which relationship will turn out to be the one that fulfills our heart’s deepest desire.
While I am generally a proponent of careful research of the particular qualities you want to find in a man, I am open to the shotgun approach when it comes to dating. I’m talking about the beginning stages of getting to know people here, not physical intimacy or deep relationships. That part comes after you have found someone great.
My advice is that you should put your energy into showing up in the right kinds of places where there are likely to be eligible men of a high quality that meet your standards. After that, open your mind and life to experience a wide variety of dating interactions. Put the shotgun approach to work.
You would be surprised how often I have to encourage my clients to put relationships first in their lives. You would think a person willing to spend money on a relationship consultant would already be maximizing their own personal effort in that area of their lives. Surprisingly, that’s not always the case.
Some of the people, who hire me, have more money than time. They are busy in professional jobs that yield tangible results at the end of a workday. They need to ship an item, or complete a report, or call on a business partner to make a proposal. Any of these things can be completed in twenty minutes and crossed off their list, yielding that pleasurable sense of accomplishment that drove them to become a successful business person in the first place.
There’s a tendency among successful and driven women to shift their energy and attention gradually away from relationships, because the outcomes achieved from effort in that area of their life is not always tangible. It’s hard to measure. It doesn’t yield that positive sense of accomplishment.
“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”
If you don’t know someone personally who experienced this, I’m sure you’ve heard tales of people who were given a medical prognosis suggesting they have only three months to live. Oddly enough, many of these tales include some element of surprising joy and appreciation of life.
None of us would wish such a prognosis on someone, yet many of us have learned a valuable lesson from the experiences described by those who have walked this path. They speak of joy that seems to emanate from a sudden increase in their appreciation of the simple things in life that we typically ignore because of our constant pursuit of what’s coming next.
Humans are driven by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. All of our motivation comes from those polarized drives. We want more pleasure, and we want to escape from pain.
Our efforts to get more pleasure and avoid pain drive our minds to dwell in the future. Oddly enough, the experiences of those with a short time to live suggest we are looking in the wrong place. Rather than looking to the future, their experiences suggest we can find the greatest joy by bringing our attention fully to what we have .
It is not easy to turn off the longing for other circumstances, or some moment in the future when we will finally be relieved of some gnawing emotional or physical pain. Being told you have only a short time to live makes it easier though. Near-death experiences also make it easier.
Where do you get your energy from?
What makes you feel alive?
Do you agree that energy is important? Do you agree that people who routinely find ways to tap into energy reserves seem more vibrant and alive?
If so, you may also agree that romance can only be born when two people are energized when they meet.
In a long-term relationship, the quality of energy you bring to the relationship will determine the quality of the long-term benefit each partner receives.
What kind of person energizes you?
I have always been fascinated by the topic of mental saturation. It’s the idea that you can manipulate your own thoughts, perceptions of the world, habits, and inclinations simply by choosing what you consistently expose your mind to.
A friend of mine once complained to me about nightmares she was having. We got talking about the content of her nightmares, and the possible contributors to her nighttime anxiety manifested in the world of her dreams. It didn’t take long for us to stumble into conversation about her love of horror movies.
As I write these words, Superman is staring at me. The original Superman movies were fairly cheesy, but a friend of mine gave me a Superman poster along with a single clip from an old movie reel from the film. I hung it in my office as inspiration to pursue goodness and to do my best at heroically serving others. I swore off horror films long ago.
My friend and I talked about my decision not to watch horror movies. To her, horror films represent the highest form of art. She loves the idea of striving for the most creative and dark forms of gruesome torture. However, as we got talking about the way she routinely saturates her mind with thoughts of malevolence and death, she couldn’t help but agree that she may predispose herself to more vivid nightmares than would be typical for someone who grew up on a farm two hundred years ago.
The fact is, these days we have far more choices about what we will expose our minds to. The world has changed. If you do not consciously adjust the stream of information entering your mind, you put yourself at risk. There is an endless stream of videos, magazines, websites, books, movies, and other mediums that allow me to focus in on any narrow subject I wish.
Feedback is one of the most effective tools for improving ourselves. In his book, “Talent is Overrated,” Georff Colvin makes the case that people with superior skills and abilities usually developed those skills because of feedback over time, rather than innate talent.
No one would argue against the idea that some people seem to have an innate charisma. Some men and women just seem to have that special something that makes it easy to get dates.
I was having a conversation with a psychotherapist friend of mine the other day, who described a woman she was seeing in psychotherapy. Her words were, “She’s one of those women that you can just see a man would love deeply.”
Her words surprised me. I mean, we all know there are some people that seem to have special qualities, but the quality she described seemed to imply a set of attributes that made this woman loveable. I couldn’t disagree with the concept; it just surprised me to hear her say it that way.
I am very grateful for all the kind, sweet, thoughtful, and responsible women who ask me this question: “I have this issue that I feel I need to be upfront with him about before our relationship goes too far. Should I tell him about it on the first date?”
I appreciate these women, but they go too far in their efforts to avoid deceiving a potential partner. Some women seem to feel they are being deceitful or irresponsible if they do not reveal all of their physical or mental health flaws on the first date. I disagree.
I recently heard a brain-science researcher discussing the nature of human memory. He was making the case that humans are “anticipation machines” and that memory is the foundation of our ability to anticipate what is coming next.
He was talking about the difference between “implicit” and “explicit” memory. Explicit memory is the kind of memory you can share as factual knowledge or as a story of a certain place or situation. It’s different than implicit memory because implicit memory is nonverbal.
Implicit memory is the kind of memory that allows you to remember how to ride a bike. When you get on a bike, you have the sense that you know what to do. Your body knows how to balance.
The shifting weight of the bicycle feels familiar to you as you make a turn. This is implicit memory. Even though you cannot put it into words, it is active in your mind when you hop on a bike.
What does your boyfriend anticipate about you?
Regardless of whether you are over fifty, or about to reach your twenty-first birthday, the value of a solid network of female AND male friends is extremely high. Even if you already have a strong network of friends and acquaintances, I’m going to make the case today for expanding that network.
Here are eight good reasons to build your network of male and female friendships if all you really want right now is just one good romantic relationship. I also have an important warning for you if you choose to date someone you were introduced to by a friend.
Let’s start with the eight reasons why you should build your social network of platonic friends.
1. Purposefully building platonic friendships is less stressful than directly pursuing single men. Nonetheless, your expanded network of friends will automatically put you in contact with friends of friends, some of whom will be interested in you as more than a friend.
2. With an expanding list of friends and interesting people in your life, your judgment and patience will improve when selecting a dating partner. When your social life is full, you feel less lonely, so you are more likely to take your time and carefully choose a dating partner.
3. Friendships are worth a lot regardless of if you get anything else out of them.
4. Most of the time, dating someone you met online or at a grocery store is just fine. However, there are advantages to dating people that you met through a network of friends who can screen people for you. They can not only protect you from bad experiences, but also give you the inside scoop on a guy you might be interested in.
5. Did you know that social psychology research has shown that we like someone more after we do that person a favor? It’s true, and one of the favors friends most enjoy is playing matchmaker to set you up. As you build your relationship network, give your friends permission to spread the word when you are single and looking.
6. When you build your network of friendships with men, you feel more natural and relaxed hanging out with men. That translates to feeling more natural and relaxed on a first date with a guy that you actually want to make a great impression on.
7. In the process of building your friendship network, you will accidentally run into people you are actually interested in as a dating prospect rather than simply as a friend. Because you were just looking for friendship when you introduced yourself, the pressure was off for both you and him. It’s a simple shift in mindset that takes some of the pressure out of dating.
8. There are practical benefits to having a large network of friends and acquaintances beyond those associated with your goal of meeting a keeper. For example, when you’re trying to move, a group of sixteen friends makes it feel like quick work. When you need a job, research suggests word-of-mouth is still the primary method by which people attain employment; even in the age of monster.com and other online job listing sites.
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
~ Victor Borge
I agree with the quote above, but it can be hard to let loose and relax into natural laughter when you are trying to make a good impression on a date.
When you are feeling inhibited (even if just a tiny bit) you are less likely to show emotion (good or bad). That is not great for showing off your personality.
Yes, there are some people who get fits of “nervous laughter” but that is not the norm. Most of us become more observant and less relaxed when we are trying to make a good impression.
Yet, if the quote above is true, then laughter is one of the best ways to break tension and build an instant bond. Is there a way to relax into laughter when you are not feeling it?
I recently heard a terrible story from the lips of a woman who endured a tragedy of the sort that changes your life forever. The root cause of her suffering seemed to stem from the repeated decision to forgive a man too many times. But we will come back to that story in just a minute. This is a tale of two relationships, and I want to start with the other one.
Her name is Janice (or at least that’s what we’ll call her to preserve her privacy). Janice is a woman I consulted with regarding relationship issues of a minor sort. When I use the term, “minor sort” I do not mean to dismiss the emotional pain she was feeling.
I’ll put it this way: Janice was too caught up in her boyfriend’s flaws to appreciate the fantastic man he is, and the wonderful relationship she should have been enjoying with him.
There are many things that can contribute to our unhappiness. It is my belief that one of the most common sources of unnecessary loss of happiness comes down to the mistake of wanting to be right, even if it costs us our happiness.
Mr. Right is hard to find. He’s not Mr. Right because he is perfect. He is Mr. Right because he is right for you. Even if he is right for you, chances are he’s going to have a few quirks that annoy you.
They seem trivial, but annoying quirks can gradually drive a wedge between two people, especially when only one person realizes it’s even a problem. Here is a simple plan for disarming the negative emotional impact of his unusual quirks, along with a warning about the meaning of certain kinds of quirks.
Which is easier, finding a new Mr. Right with no quirks, or learning how to adapt to his unusual quirks? Of course, there is a third option, which is to gently train him to change the annoying behavior.
But let’s start with the assumption that the relationship has not yet reached a point where correction and feedback of his behavior would flow smoothly. Let’s start with a potentially painless fix you can use on yourself so that you don’t find his quirks so annoying.
Very often, the annoying features of someone else’s habits annoy us precisely because we have an opposite tendency or trait. For example, some people are annoyed when a housemate does not wash the toothpaste-spit down the drain after brushing their teeth. That same person probably feels annoyed with a partner who leaves their socks on the floor in the living room instead of walking them to a laundry hamper.
If you are the person that leaves your socks laying around, you probably have less of the personality trait psychologists call “conscientiousness.” It’s not that you don’t like the look of a neat and tidy home or sink; it’s that you don’t care nearly as much as someone who is very high on the conscientious trait.
Here is a simple way you can decrease your annoyance with Mr. Right when he obliviously annoys you with some habit or behavior.
Here are a few things I have learned about texting as a relationship coach.
1.You should not make decisions or write those decisions in a text message when you are upset.
2.You should be VERY slow to respond to text messages when you are angry.
3.Your own mood will determine how you imagine the other person’s tone of voice as you read their text.
I can recall countless episodes of sitting in my office with a client who insisted I read a series of back and forth text messages between her and her boyfriend.
In most of these situations they were not asking me for advice. Instead, they were looking for validation. Validation of the intense feelings of frustration with a boyfriend who was in a full fledged emotional blame game with them.
In many of these situations, a quick read of the first few text messages revealed the problem.
I’m talking about the snowball effect of misinterpretation. Just one misunderstanding early in the text-conversation causes a splintering of perspectives. Almost like you and your boyfriend enter parallel dimensions, or alternate universes.
The context of a statement is misunderstood, but neither person realizes the misunderstanding has occurred. As a result, both parties continue the conversation under differing sets of assumptions about the other person’s thoughts and motivations.
The Text Message Land-Mine
That creates a land mine just waiting for one of you to step on. Because neither of you remembers having set a land mine, you both launch into a blame game fueled by frustration.
It’s amazing how often people overlook the possibility that simple miscommunication has occurred. And it’s because emotions (both positive and negative) can severely skew the way we interpret written messages.
The lack of vocal intonation, facial expression, and other nonverbal clues creates a much larger range of possible interpretations for written words compared with in-person communication.
There is a solution to this common problem. But first, let’s look at a real-life example of the problem as it unfolds.
One of the amazing things about being human is that we experience life on a continuum. Maybe there are Zen masters who reach a level of present-moment awareness more than 50% of each day, but I’ve never met them. I have met a few cats that seem to be able to pull that off, but no humans.
Humans live their lives in anticipation of what’s coming next. When we expect it’s going to be something enjoyable, our moods lift. When we anticipate heart ache, hardship, or pain, our moods plummet.
Here’s an interesting question. If you imagine a future that involves purposeful self development toward the goal of more consistently enjoying life, what would happen to your expectations about the future?
Let me explain that question with a concrete example. Let’s say I have a friend named Ted. He’s kind of average as far as his typical mood states go. He feels down once in a while. He feels really happy once in a while, but most of the time his moods follow the ever-changing expectations of the moment.
When lunch is five minutes away, his mood lifts a bit. On Friday afternoons he feels more energetic. While getting ready for his Monday morning workout he feels tired and blue. Afterward he feels successful and happy. In the weeks before a vacation his happiness goes up for a few minutes each time he thinks about the family members he will get to spend time with. When his boss dumps a pile of work on his desk his energy seems to disappear along with his cheerful spirit.
Then one day, he stumbles across a book that is all about mental strategies a person can use to purposefully enhance happiness and feelings of well-being. He begins to imagine himself in the future, changed by the contents of the book as he develops new positive emotional habits.
What would happen in this situation?
There are some things about your personal appearance you simply cannot do anything to change. For the sake of building your own confidence and self-esteem, it is important that you accept those things completely.
Yes, I know you would still change them if your fairy godmother showed up with a magic wand and gave you the option. Just make sure you don’t hold your breath, waiting to embrace your body until later.
There is a lot to be said for fully embracing the body you find yourself living in. If you have features you don’t like, do everything in your power to fully accept them and make friends with yourself as a person who has those features. It really does improve your quality of life when you accept yourself as you are.
That being said, you don’t want to miss out on easy opportunities that could allow you to better tug at men’s attraction triggers. If you can do something to enhance your appearance, you might choose to do so. It all depends on how comfortable you are with the idea.
Here are a few things researchers claim as fairly strong variables that influence an average man’s attraction triggers (assuming you care what “average” men think).
One is a smooth and clear complexion. Another is clear eyes. And a third is long, healthy hair (for Caucasian women anyway), which men just called “shiny” in research samples. Those factors were at the top of the list of variables that seemed to really attract research participants when a research team showed men hundreds of pictures and carefully analyzed the results.
At Be Irresistible, we don’t recommend beauty products just for the heck of it. We don’t usually research them either. But when women tell us something works unusually well, we pass on that information to our members.
There is a hair product that seems to be a few steps above the rest when it comes to adding a silky shine and taming frizz. It may actually live up to the advertising hype according to some women I personally asked to try it (after hearing from a reader that it is amazingly good).
Generally speaking, a relationship only works if both partners make the decision to trust each other. I have counseled quite a few women on the importance of either embracing a man and choosing to trust him, or getting out of the relationship if he is an untrustworthy person. A relationship that involves constant anxiety about whether he is cheating is not a relationship worth being in.
The tips I have for you today are for those early stages of a new relationship where it can be helpful to get some very basic information on a guy you only recently met. This is particularly important if you did not meet him through a mutual acquaintance. Continue reading
What does the term “feedback” mean to you? If you’re like most people, you think of it as a tool for repair. You give your boyfriend feedback to fix something.
Feedback is generally used as a method of telling people what they have done wrong and what they need to do to fix it. As you and I both know, people don’t enjoy being told what they have done wrong.
It’s not that we are children who can’t tolerate the experience. We often try to be tough and accept negative feedback with an open mind.
But even then, we can only tolerate so much before the dam breaks and our frustration pours forth as a wave of counter criticisms in argumentative tones.
In the vast majority of situations, feedback can be given in positive terms almost as easily as it can be given in negative terms. Let’s look at an example.
You’re trying to teach your twelve-year-old niece how to play tennis. Here are a few bits of negative feedback you could give her:
“Stop hesitating as you approach the ball.”
“Don’t wait to see where the ball is going before you reposition on the court.”
You could just as easily phrase this feedback in positive terms, like this:
Your intuition will be your guide to recognizing an emotionally mature man. Many women make the mistake of ignoring their intuition when they meet an attractive guy who shows interest in them.
If you have not already enhanced your intuition with my course on intuition for dating, get access to those materials and invest in that important personal skill. It will help you in many areas of life beyond the world of dating and relationships. You can find information by clicking here.
Beyond intuition, there are a few specific things you can look for to help you determine whether a guy is emotionally mature enough for a committed relationship.
Probably the easiest way you can tell is simply by looking at his friends. It’s not a foolproof indicator of maturity, but generally speaking, immature friends suggest he may be more immature than he lets on when interacting with you.
Want to find a man who is ready for marriage? Then look for a man whose friends have been getting engaged or married within the past year. It speaks to his stage of life, and statistics seem to suggest people are more likely to look for a serious commitment when their friends begin to tie the knot.
The reverse is true as well. A man whose friends are getting wasted in the corner, throwing spit balls at the waitress, and making lewd remarks about what might go on between you and this guy later… well, you can probably guess what that would suggest about his attitudes, even if he does not admit to them because he senses you are a woman of higher class.
As you can probably imagine, I spend a fair amount of time absorbing the ideas and methods of other dating coaches. Some of their ideas are helpful, some I just flat-out disagree with.
Generally speaking, I agree with the concept of putting your best foot forward and doing everything in your power to maximize your attraction factors. However, I disagree with the idea of focusing most of your attention on those issues.
Here’s why. When you focus too much on yourself, you kill the most beautiful part of your presence.
When I use the term “presence” I am referring to the experience of the other person. I am referring to the experience a man has of being in your presence.
I cannot over emphasize the importance of that special “click” that causes a person to have the sudden feeling that someone else is special. That “click” is far less likely to happen when your mind is preoccupied with putting your best foot forward.
Here’s what I recommend instead. Focus on the other person while maintaining full conscious awareness of the present moment as it unfolds one second at a time.
Next, add this special little ingredient. Look at the man you are interacting with and think the thought, “Let me love you.” This last little addition will change you in a special sort of way.
We all have an agenda.
An agenda is not necessarily a hidden, nefarious plan to get away with something at other people’s expense.
An agenda is like a set of goals, or a plan for what we will try to achieve.
Some researchers have proposed there is one basic motivation, one agenda that runs deeper than any other for humans. They say our minds are designed to figure out the agenda of other human beings.
We are endlessly curious about other people’s intentions…their agenda. It’s a deeply rooted motivation. It’s a hard-wired part of the human psyche. Continue reading
Okay, I admit I’ve done some weird things in my life, but most of them were in pursuit of knowledge as a dating coach.
I remember when a friend of mine dared me to dial a phone number, 1-800 FAT GIRLS (328-4457). This was ten years ago, so I have no idea what the phone number dials now, but at the time it was a recording of a woman’s voice, introducing some kind of credit card offer after several seconds of innuendos about sex delivered with an exaggerated sexy tone of voice.
The message was cleverly suggesting double meanings about things you can do with credit cards.
I wondered after hearing that message whether the company actually made any money with that strange form of advertising. One thing companies know for sure is that sex sells.
As a dating coach, it’s useful to me to know what (specifically) men find sexy and alluring about women. You can imagine the strange looks I get from men when I ask them to tell me what they find attractive. I rarely get a straight answer, but my persistence has paid off.
In today’s email I am going to cue you in on my own personal fantasy. I’m going to tell you about one particular thing you can do to automatically turn on a guy’s interest.
One of the most useful concepts for making personal and business decisions is “Zero-sum thinking.”
What is it?
Zero-sum thinking is a method of clearing the mind of the effects of what is called a “sunken investment.” It’s a well-known fact that humans are susceptible to over-valuing things that they have already invested in.
For example, if you have invested a lot of time and energy in a relationship, there is a tendency to avoid giving up on that relationship because you feel like you have invested so much. You don’t want to lose your investment.
That logic makes sense on the surface, but not if you look a little more closely. The things you have invested are in the past. You cannot get them back. So your decision should be all about the present and the future.
Zero-sum thinking means you ask yourself this question:
Imagine a private conversation between the man you are dating and his closest friend. It’s a conversation never meant to reach your ears. Your boyfriend is discussing both the good and the bad of his experience with you so far.
“Don’t get me wrong, I really do like her. I like her a lot, but her friends kind of…”
What do you think would come next if this was your boyfriend talking? How would he finish this sentence? “Her friends kind of…”
Your friends can help or harm your relationships in many different ways, but today I am just pointing out one issue you may want to check on.
Here’s the issue. If you hang out with people who are a lot like you, they will attract guys into your life who are kind of like your friends. Hopefully that’s a good thing in your mind. If the idea of attracting men who fit in with your friends makes you happy, there’s nothing you need to do. You’re set.
However, several different problems can arise if you don’t like the idea of dating a man with similar habits, hobbies, interests, economic status, lifestyle choices, or other traits your friends have.
Which of these two folk sayings is actually true?
I like simple ideas. Especially ones that unlock feelings of joy. Or thoughts that energize you.
Like this thought from Ashley Smith, for example:
“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”
This quote is about looking for what’s good. When you look for beauty, you find beauty.
The problem is that it is more common for the human mind to dwell on problems.
Your mind is an excellent problem solver. Your mind tends to obsess about any problem that gets in the way. This can be quite useful unless there is no easy solution, in which case we experience a building feeling of stress as one unsolved problem builds on another.
Our minds can only focus on a very small number of things at once. The more often you purposefully focus your mind on the good things in life, the less mental space is left for your mind to dwell on problems.
The result? You feel happier and your energy level rises.
Happy and energetic women are attractive to men. But even if every man on earth disappeared tomorrow, you would benefit tremendously from the happiness and the higher energy regardless of how it may benefit your dating life.
Let me recap. Living life full of passion is fun. Guys dig it too. You get there by changing the focus of your thoughts. Which brings us to my final, and most important point…
Some women prefer to shake things up, to avoid being overly predictable, and to keep their man “on his toes.”
Other women want to provide a consistent experience for the man they are dating. These women avoid being erratic. They figure a man will be hesitant to stick with someone who is all over the place.
When we talk about being consistent or unpredictable, we set up a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy means you pick two things and act as if they are mutually exclusive, when really they are not.
For example, someone might ask you whether you are going to choose a beautiful dress or a white dress for your wedding. Many women would assert that a dress can be both white AND beautiful at the same time. The question is posed in a way that makes it sound as if you have to choose one or the other. Which makes it a false dichotomy.
Can you be consistent and unpredictable at the same time?
I believe you can.
You do so by being consistent in ways where it pays off and being unpredictable in other aspects of the relationship where that mode has a better pay off.
So when does it pay off to be predictable? And when does it pay off to create stability?
As you know, my motivation is focused on the best possible dating outcome for you. I am a firm believer in the idea of win-win scenarios. I was first exposed to the concept by Steven Covey in his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
It’s a great book, but the one thing that stuck with me since I read it in college was this idea that successful people are always looking for situations where everyone wins. Rather than thinking of the world as a pie with only so many slices, Covey encourages people to constantly seek out situations where everyone wins.
Any small change you make in your daily habits can accumulate over time to become a significant positive or negative force in your life. Looking for win-win scenarios does not require much change. You already want the best for other people. You already work hard at various goals at work, school, or in various social contexts. I’m just suggesting a tiny habit change. Just look for one social opportunity for creating a win-win scenario each day.
When you look for something on a consistent basis, your mind learns to spot whatever it is you are looking for. Your brain changes over time, tuning-in to the things you make a habit of looking for.
Your happiness is a form of psychological wealth! It’s the kind of wealth that has unlimited value. You can’t buy happiness directly. You can buy material things that contribute to your happiness, but behind each of those purchases is the desire to attain happiness itself.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the top reasons men give for having proposed to a woman comes down to his perception that she is happy and energetic. Happiness can be contagious. Someone who talks about the adventures they look forward to in life gets you thinking about the same kind of thing. Someone who verbally appreciates the simple things-like really good dinner rolls or the elegant way a napkin was folded-makes for a better first date.
What is the difference between “emotional attraction” and “physical attraction?” While there are varying opinions on this matter, I’ll share the general consensus from men I have asked to put their feelings into words.
Physical attraction is the desire to look and touch because what you see is pleasant to look at or arousing on a biological level. Basically, your sexual desire is triggered.
Emotional attraction is a feeling that you want to kiss someone on the mouth and meld the story of your life with hers. You want her to love you back and you feel a possessive romantic drive to be important to her – to share life with her.
Physical attraction is far simpler, and far less sustainable than emotional attraction. It is more of a one-sided attraction (at least the way men feel it). This may or may not be a surprise to you, but men can feel a sexual attraction toward a woman without necessarily feeling a need to posses her exclusively. It’s kind of like he can feel a wild biological drive to have sex with a woman without much concern for what she does the next day (non-possessive physical attraction).
On the opposite side, emotional attraction is driven by the respect a man feels for a woman he would like to experience a two-way relationship with. He wants her to think highly of him and respect him. He wants her to value him above all the other men she could be with. Emotional attraction is necessary for him to experience a true, deep sort of jealousy when her interest seems to be drifting toward another man. It is a possessive desire for shared oneness.
I was driving out of my neighborhood this morning when I saw my neighbor’s four-year-old son playing outside. My neighbors are Emily and Mark, and their four-year-old son, Ethan. Emily is an American, though she speaks with a mixed accent after having spent most of her adult life living in England with her English husband, Mark. They moved to the U.S. about three years ago.
As I drove past their yard I recognized Ethan’s grandparents outside playing with him. The grandparents frequently fly in from London to spend time with the family. It struck me today that the grandparents go to great lengths to ensure a solid relationship with their grandson. Flying across an ocean and spending thousands of dollars is not a deterrent when you realize that relationships account for the majority of the happiness and success we achieve in our lives.
This got me thinking, why do so many of my clients complain about living in a small town where it’s hard to meet guys? Why do so many of my clients complain that there are no good venues to meet men for people who don’t like the bar scene? Have they limited their perspective too much? Could it be that they have not realized the full importance and value of going to extraordinary measures for the sake of building an extraordinary relationship? After all, a relationship can last a lifetime.
Interesting research from the University of Wisconsin evaluated over 500 couples to see how inequality between partners influences the satisfaction of the relationship in the long term. By “inequality” the researchers meant a variety of variables such as unusual discrepancies in attractiveness or in wealth prior to marriage. Curious about what they found?
Your relationship satisfaction will suffer the more inequality there is in the relationship. Men hope to one day marry a woman of fantastic beauty with high social standing and talents. Women grow up fantasizing about their handsome Prince Charming who will sweep them off their feet. But research suggests we are better off finding someone who is about as good-looking as we are and of a similar caliber in other respects. Continue reading
Some of the most interesting things people have learned about communication have come from the field of couples therapy.
There is one intimacy-deepening communication method that has spread from counseling rooms to business board rooms and even to government training programs.
The reason? It works! I’d like to share a few of the core components of this method with you.
The communication concept has taken on different names, but I call it, “shared-moment communication.”
That term comes from the core component that makes it so powerful. When done correctly, shared-moment communication causes two people to feel in-tune with each other.
Communication is often used to manipulate people. We manipulate others to see things from our perspective. We manipulate others even when we give a compliment in hopes of receiving a positive response.
I once heard a psychology professor claim that all communication is manipulation in one form or another. I don’t agree with that, because I’ve discovered shared-moment communication.
With shared-moment communication, you can actually draw the other person into a deeper level of intimacy, even if they are not actively practicing shared-moment communication themselves.
How does it work?
Here is my top ten list of qualities you will want to look for in a man.
I share this list with you as a dating coach, but also as a person with a deep desire to see good women end up with worthy men. I want YOU to end up with someone who will treasure his relationship with you. I want you to end up with someone that will bring out the best in you.
There are few things sadder to me than a woman with a beautiful heart settling for a man that slowly deadens that heart over years of emotional neglect.
To prevent that, allow this list to impact your perception of men. Allow me to influence your perception of who is, and who is not worthy of your pursuit.
This list is in order, with number ten being the most important to your long term joy and satisfaction.
1. You would be proud to introduce him to people that care about you.
2. His life history suggests strong motivation for achievement. This will eventually pay off if, for example, he is still learning how to communicate well with women.
3. He has a face you find attractive.
4. He is willing to allow you to pursue your own interests and career. He sees your pursuits as equally important to his own.
As a dating consultant, I often get feedback from my clients about what seemed to help and what didn’t. Today I’m sharing one piece of advice that never fails to result in enthusiastic feedback from my clients. It’s so simple, it’s embarrassing.
Are you ready? Okay. Here it is. Don’t interrupt him when he’s talking. Practice listening until he completely finishes his thought and allow a deliberate pause in the conversation before you respond. This one change has resulted in more positive feedback than any other single training challenge I have given my clients. Continue reading
Becky asked a question in response to my Be Brave post. I asked her if we could share her question, as I suspect many others have dealt with the issue she brings up. Thanks, Becky, for giving me permission to address this question publicly for the benefit of all. Here is Becky’s e-mail question:
Do you feel awkward when someone pays you a genuine complement?
Do you experience a sudden increase in self-consciousness?
Do you stammer or say nothing while averting your gaze?
Do you hit the person that complimented you and accuse him of lying (in a childish attempt to appear humble)?
Do you tell him to “shut up” or “save it” as if he is secretly poking fun at you instead of actually expressing admiration?
If you regularly engage in any of these types of responses, I have some highly sophisticated advice for you: STOP IT!!!
If you have already developed the social grace needed to receive a compliment well, please excuse me while I reach out a hand to those who never had the benefit of a good teacher in this particularly rare social skill.
To receive a compliment well, you need only do three things:
Hey its James. I hope this post will inspire you to take one simple action…exercise.
If the effects of physical exercise could be bottled and sold in the form of a pill, sales of that pill would exceed all other medications combined. Physical exercise is now included in the top-tier most effective interventions not just for heart disease, diabetes, weight loss, and high blood pressure, but for generalized anxiety, depression, and dementia.
A fit body and a happy mood are two of the most influential factors when it comes to attracting a quality man into your life. If you struggle with the stress of life, exercise will help you keep a positive outlook on life and improve your sleep quality. If you could stand to lose a few pounds, exercise will change key hormones in your body that influence something called “calorie partitioning.” Calorie partitioning determines how many of the calories you consume go toward fat storage versus repairing muscle tissue and energy production. Of course, it burns off some calories as well.
Did you know that the popular antidepressant drug, Prozac could not beat twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise four times per week as a treatment for depression? It also beat or match all the other antidepressant drugs it has ever been compared to in clinical trials. In other words, exercise helps us maintain a positive mood.
For that reason alone, exercise is worthwhile. But when you combine that with the fact that it makes weight loss easier, makes your clothes fit better, and reduces your risk for all kinds of diseases, it just makes sense to build it into your daily routine.
Does the thought of exercising overwhelm you? Let me challenge you to set a very small goal that doesn’t feel overwhelming. If you’re not already exercising four days out of seven, start by doing just ten minutes of strength-building exercise in your living room. Use a motivating DVD or just do situps, pushups, and standing lunges.
Do it before you put on your makeup each morning so you don’t resist it simply to avoid having to shower and redo your hair and makeup. It’s harder to exercise in the mornings, but if you don’t you just won’t get around to it.
The key is to build those ten minutes into your daily routine just like brushing your teeth or checking your mail. If it’s not a part of your daily routine, you just won’t do it. Other things that seem more urgent will get in the way.
You can increase your exercise duration later. For now, just start. Get it into your routine. Do just five minutes if that’s all you can easily manage right now. You’ll find your energy improves, your mood improves, and you’ll find it easier to extend the duration of your exercise as those benefits unfold in your life.
Just looking out for you as always,
Hey, it’s James with a tip for the early phase of a dating relationship.
“So, what do you do for fun?” It’s a question that usually comes a little while after, “What do you do for a living?” and, “Where are you from?”
Few people are adequately prepared to answer this crucial question. Most people, when put on the spot, stammer something vague like, “Uh…I don’t know. I guess I like to hang out with friends, um… or read a good book, or…um…I don’t know. The usual stuff I guess.”
This is a pretty lame answer. Of the three “get to know you” questions I mentioned before, which is most likely to directly influence his experience while dating you?
1.Where you are from?
2.What you do for a living?
3.What you do for fun?
You could make the argument that if he settles down with you and marries you, what you do for a living could have a significant impact on his life. But when he is just beginning to show interest in you, your relationship is nowhere near a point where your career is going to directly affect his experience of being in your presence.
When you spend time hanging out with your boyfriend, you are basically just trying to enjoy life together. You’re trying to have fun. One of the reasons we seek out relationships is because most things we do for fun become even more fun when done together.
Take just a moment right now to prepare your mind to give a really great answer to the question, “What do you do for fun?”
Don’t get stuck listing generic past times. Instead, focus on the idea of fun itself.
What do I mean by “fun itself?” I mean you should focus your response on describing the emotional experience of fun. Here’s an example:
Hey, it’s James with a message for those of you who like to use a little mystery to add an extra spark at the start of a relationship.
Imagine this, Janice is on her second date with Ted. Janice is particularly good with her eyes. She can communicate more with her eyes than many people can communicate with their mouths.
Janice has been working an angle she is particularly good at. She’s playing the “mysterious yet interested” angle in her interactions with Ted. It’s working. Ted is interested. He definitely wants more.
So where do things go from here? You can only play the mysterious angle for so long. For some women I have coached, it is their leading act. They are really good at it. But these women often struggle when the relationship begins to deepen, becoming more real and personal.
What do you do next?
Some people suggest you just give it up all at once. I say they are not using their imagination. They want to cut the romantic tension too soon.
When a relationship is just beginning, the romantic tension is an essential element. It acts like a bonding glue that keeps the fragile relationship going until it has strength of its own built on commitment and love.
Here’s the advice I have given to several women who lead with an element of mystery in their interpersonal style.
Do you have this superpower? My friend is a social worker with a difficult job working on the inpatient unit of a mental health hospital. She has a forty-minute commute to work each day.
I was talking with her about an audiobook I was listening to while driving to my office one day. She seemed surprised that anyone would listen to a book while riding in the car. Her commentary was, “Music is like breathing for me. It’s life!”
That statement would not be so incredible if it were not for the fact that I could literally feel the joy emanating from her as she spoke those words. It was like happiness was dancing in her eyes, putting on a full Broadway production instead of the usual little sparkle that hints at joy.
She told me of some of the difficulties she faces at work and the way the music lifts her up, preparing her mind to embrace what good she can find during each workday. At least, that’s what I reflected back to her as I tried to practice good listening skills.
She corrected me by noting I had missed the point. “You’re close, James, but it’s a little deeper than that. I don’t use music as a tool to change my mental state. I become one with the music. I am the music. It’s my security and it’s my power.”
She went on to describe the way she rides the rhythms and the vibration of the music, experiencing it as a form of harmony or oneness. She explained how she rides that wave of power, security, and energy through the difficult interactions she faces during the course of each workday. All she has to do is let the fresh memory of the music play in her mind.
Hey its James. I hope this post will inspire you to take one simple action…exercise.
If the effects of physical exercise could be bottled and sold in the form of a pill, sales of that pill would exceed all other medications combined. Physical exercise is now included in the top-tier most effective interventions not just for heart disease, diabetes, weight loss, and high blood pressure, but for generalized anxiety, depression, and dementia.
Angie was excited when she met Scott. He seemed to be everything she wanted. An embodiment of the very affirmation she held over the past two months while working with me as her relationship coach.
I knew she was truly smitten with love when she said, “He just makes my heart sing!” That phrase was a part of an affirmation we had been working on since day one.
In my initial assessment of Angie’s situation, it became apparent that she had a self-defeating belief about relationships. There are many variations of this particular belief, but the general theme of it was this: “Guys are all pigs. True romance is a Hollywood illusion.”
This was an unconscious belief for Angie. It became apparent as we began discussing what kind of guy she would be really happy with.
We were trying to get through an worksheet on building a positive vision for the kind of guy she wanted to find. We were both in tears from laughing so hard by the time we got to the sixth item on the worksheet. Because every time Angie began to say something good she would like to find in a man, she had two sarcastic reasons why such a man could never actually exist!
The more we talked about it, the clearer it became to both of us that deep down in her heart, she did not believe any man would actually rise to the challenge of joining her in a truly satisfying relationship.
So we got to work on replacing that relationship-sabotaging belief with a new, more empowering one.
Now let me ask you, do you believe yourself to be a good communicator?
Most women are good at communication, certainly when compared to their male counterparts. Yet as a dating coach, one of the most common issues I discuss with women is the frustration of communication problems with a new boyfriend.
It’s not at all uncommon for a woman who has excellent communication skills to find herself at a loss when it comes to reconnecting with her man when he’s shutting down or pulling away. Why does that happen?
The simplest answer comes down to emotions.
Have you ever noticed that we treat the people we are closest to the worst? Brothers and sisters pull out all the stops when arguing with each other as kids. Husbands and wives often talk to each other in ways they would never dream of talking to a stranger or someone they dislike at work. Why does this happen?
Modern society owes all of its success to the power of leverage.
Regardless of your ethnic background, all of our ancestors started out hunting, fishing, or farming for their own little family or tribe. At some point, cultures became sophisticated enough with trade practices for people to specialize in one task.
Take net-making for example. One man or woman learned how to make nets for fishing. The nets worked so much better than spears that one-third of the fishermen from a village could now supply all the fish needed.
That freed up quite a few fishermen who now enjoyed the freedom to specialize in something new. Each time someone specialized, they became a little more dependent on the society they traded with, but the community benefited because of improved products or skills now available.
Of course, leverage comes in many forms. Some forms of leverage can help significantly when it comes to dating.
Here are three forms of leverage I want to make sure you are using:
Shared goal leverage is all about working with people toward a common goal. There are many ways to use this form of leverage. The most basic one comes down to alerting your social network to your quest to find a guy that clicks with you.
Research has surprisingly shown that our friends and family are capable of picking out better partners for us than we can pick on our own. This defies logic, but demonstrates the value of an outside perspective.
I’m not asking you to get them to pick your next date. Rather, I’m asking you to make sure they are aware you are open to suggestions.
A few months ago I was reading in my home office. As usual, it was psychology-oriented reading material. But the particular topic had to do with the unusual challenges faced by charitable organizations.
Perhaps this comes as no surprise to you, but the author was pointing out something I found very interesting (and strange). Save-the-Children type organizations are forced to focus on the stories of just a few people if they want to be successful at raising money from donors.
It could be an organization that raises money for orphans of the Central African civil wars. It could be an organization that raises money for malnourished children. Regardless of the cause, only individual stories seem to evoke the emotion needed for a person to pull out his or her checkbook.
And it turns out, the more children you show in a presentation, the less donors are willing to give. That sounds backwards, doesn’t it?
The worst situation occurs when the charitable organization offers statistics about the number of children who need homes. Or statistics about the number of families who don’t have enough food to live. For some reason the statistics seem to cause us to disconnect emotionally.
I experienced this first hand last week.
I attended a fund raiser for what the presenter said was classified by the U.N. as the “third poorest nation on earth.” She told us how it is landlocked and how the other countries demand tariffs and other fees as products enter or leave the landlocked nation with very few natural resources of its own.
None of that really affected me. But when she told me the story of two kids they helped by building an orphanage home, I was ready to write a check. I suddenly had an emotional desire to make sure the organization could continue helping those kids. I wanted to cry because the stories touched me so deeply.
Seeing lots of children doesn’t work. Why? Because it disconnects us from the way compassion and caring works in the human mind.
Humans are built for relationships, but not relationships with crowds. Our instincts are programmed to respond to the human story.
If you are exposed to the story of one child, by the name of Gianna, and you learn about her particular hopes and struggles, something interesting starts to happen. You begin to connect with that child…a child you have never actually met. You start to care about her. She matters to you. How Gianna’s story ends is suddenly real and personal on an emotional level, not just a cognitive level.
Here’s the message I want you to get from this email. Your story matters. When you’re trying to connect with your love interest, it’s your story that gets him emotionally hooked.
Lets talk about guys and emotions.
Here are some insights you may find useful on this topic. Men have just as many emotions as women. Hard to believe right =)
So why don’t they open up about their emotions? Why does everything have to be about the logic of the situation? Why does he focus on accomplishing things at the expense of his relationships?
These are among the most infuriating issues women face as they try to bridge the cultural gap to create a loving and emotionally deep relationship with a man.
There are several factors that cause men to be less emotionally expressive.
Surprisingly, one of the most important factors is simply a lack of practice. For some men, there is actually a deficit in the vocabulary needed for expressing complicated emotions like mixed feelings about a relationship.
At the extreme, this difficulty with communicating about feelings is called “Alexithymia.” That term refers to the lack of appropriate knowledge of the right words to use to express the subtle shades of emotion felt within.
The short answer is yes.
For example, in my training materials I describe a method for making your pupils grow larger while making eye contact with a man.
Executed correctly, this technique can cause him to feel drawn towards you in a romantic way (without knowing why).
(Our pupils enlarge whenever we are looking at something we like or want. At a subconscious level we notice when this happens to someone we are interacting with…which stirs positive feelings of attraction.)
You can also pull hard on a man’s emotions by connecting with him through the power of story.
That method takes some practice, but it basically means tapping into the fact that the human brain is wired for story.
We pay attention when someone tells a story. We get emotionally involved when someone shares their story. I’m talking about short snippets of story you weave into your natural conversation.
But in today’s coaching email we are discussing something right under your nose that you may have missed.
Think about what you already know about love. Using your existing knowledge base, try answering the following question.
Jack and Jill work in the same office setting. If Jill wants to make Jack fall in love with her, should she increase or decrease the following factors?
These factors are all fairly obvious, yet many people ignore them, thinking they have to wait for magic potion number nine before they’ll have any chance with a particular guy.
Have you ever heard that expression, “Good things come to those who wait?” Well it doesn’t apply here!
There are right ways and wrong ways to use online dating sites.
The key is to remember they are just tools.
Any tool can end up being a waste of time (or even damaging) if used in the wrong way. When handled correctly, tools can speed you to your goal.
The right way to use online dating sites (like PlentyofFish.com or Match.com) is by leveraging them for very specific purposes.
They can save you time by attracting opportunities to rapidly test men for their quality and compatibility with your relationship needs.
These sites can also waste tremendous amounts of your time by sucking you into frustration or bad dates you wish you never agreed to.
The reason I teach methods for using online dating sites is because of the possibility for using them to extend your reach. The key is being able to say no to dead ends.
If you are not a person who can easily stick with your boundaries and cut off communication with someone you’re not interested in, then you should stay away from online dating.
It’s no secret. Confidence helps in the world of dating and romance.
If you feel confident about how you look, you will be more playful, relaxed, and attractive. If you feel confident about your value as a human being, you will bring warmth and genuine presence to your interactions with men.
What if you have low self-confidence about your appearance or your personal value? Does it help to repeat affirmations like, “I am radiant and beautiful?”
The short answer is no. That’s the conclusion of a research study where the typical version of affirmations was put to the test.
If you do not already feel beautiful, saying you do just brings your focus to something that decreases your confidence.
But here’s the good news.
Men put up a tough exterior, but inside they crave affirmation of their manliness.
They crave respect.
Men feel so strongly about respect and disrespect that the absence of it can end a relationship.
Why have you never heard of this before?
It’s because of several reasons, but one reason is that the desire for respect is so deep that many men don’t even realize other people (women) don’t sense it.
You know how men can be so emotionally insensitive and act as if logic is the only thing that matters in an argument? It sometimes seems like men are emotional idiots.
Well it feels kind of like that for men when it comes to the respect issue. Although…it’s not quite like that because men just clam up and pull away instead of verbally expressing their exasperation.
My friend accidentally sent a sip of Coke up her nasal passage. She was laughing too hard at Jeremy’s story.
I bet you’ve had some lively conversations like this.
Think about the most fun you ever had with a group of friends. Chances are, you and your friends stumbled into some lively conversation topics. Maybe something that got you all laughing.
Or maybe it was happy news a friend shared. Whatever the case, your conversation topics were a part of what made the interaction a bonding experience.
Today I want to tell you about a weird psychological research study.
Psychologists were trying to study the power of subconscious mental associations. It’s a well known fact that our mind notices things outside our conscious awareness.
But the question was, “Can this be used on purpose to influence people?”
Psychologists gave research subjects lists of words that seemed random. But all the words had a very subtle connection.
For example, one was, “foam, horse, and shell.” (Can you guess what these words have in common?)
Most people don’t consciously notice an association. But sophisticated research methods have revealed that your mind becomes primed to think of the sea when exposed to these three words as a group.
(The connection is sea foam, seahorse, and seashell…all containing the word “sea”).
Anyway, the psychologists used this “priming effect” to get research subjects to unconsciously think about old people (using a different set of words but same idea). Afterward, they secretly timed how long it took the participants to walk down a hallway to another room.
Those who were exposed to “old people” words unconsciously adopted a slower pace of movement. Those exposed to other mental associations walked faster.
Now, I’m setting a bad example. Never launch into a story about a research study on a date (unless you are both Ph.D. students with a common interest or something).
The reason I bring up this research study is because I want you to recognize something important. Your date will unconsciously associate YOU with whatever topics you discuss on a date with him.
His experience of you is very limited at first. First impressions are formed quickly, based primarily on how he feels in your presence. But the effect is still there even after years of spending time together.
So here’s my advice. Tap into peak life experiences.
Imagine this. A guy walks up to you at a large social gathering at someone’s home. You don’t know him, but he introduces himself and seems nice enough. You get talking to him and he starts complimenting you.
The first compliment is nice. You feel pleasantly flattered. Then he compliments you again about something
else. You feel it’s a little awkward to receive two compliments in such close succession from a guy you only just met.
Then he compliments you about something else. At this point you become more aware of him and notice his eyes continue to focus on you, ignoring the other three people participating in the conversation.
You decide you like him enough to overlook his social awkwardness. After all, you haven’t been on a date in a while. So when he asks for your number, you give it.
That night he calls you after the party. He doesn’t wait two days or a week to get in contact with you. In fact, he asks if you want to meet for coffee the next evening. He’s pushing a little too fast and too hard, right?
What’s wrong with this picture? This situation wouldn’t be all that bad if it weren’t for one thing. It’s a one-way pursuit of a relationship. If both partners were participating in this kind of head-over-heels tumble toward rapid relationship building, that might be okay. But that’s not what’s happening here.
Now in my last post we discussed the concept of propinquity. We talked about propinquity as an important variable to manipulate in your favor. In this post I’ll explain why it’s important to get very specific about the kinds of traits you want to find in an ideal romantic partner.
It all comes down to this. You cannot increase your propinquity with a certain type of man if you haven’t made an effort to figure out what kind of man you want to end up with.
Oh I know you’ve got strong ideas and opinions, but they’re mostly held as vague concepts in your mind. The kind of specificity I want you to focus on will narrow your search, thereby magnifying the power of your efforts.
To get specific, try to create a description of your ideal dating partner. Don’t be vague.
In your description, write down how tall he is, what he does for fun in his time off, where he lives, what he does for a living, the amount of money he makes each year, whether he likes dogs or not, whether he’s into professional sports are not, and as many other specific details of this sort as you can think of.
You may find yourself hesitating to put down specifics.
Now you might be wondering about that secret “P word”.
Propinquity is a term used by social psychologists to refer to the likelihood of interaction between two people.
If you are very likely to interact with Jake several times each day, you have high propinquity with Jake. You have very low propinquity with a guy who shares none of your interests, does not work with you, and lives on the opposite side of the country.
Why does propinquity matter?
It matters because it determines a lot about the likelihood of you ending up dating any particular person. Social psychologists have discovered that propinquity is a better predictor of who ends up with who than almost any other variable that has been studied.
But can you use this to your advantage?
How can you have “the talk” about where the relationship is going without creating a negative experience?
First of all, you should. You absolutely should talk about where the relationship is going.
People often joke that men always bolt when women try to have a talk about commitment. However, this isn’t true. The truth is that most men who are emotionally mature enough to be worth your time will be glad to share expectations and hopes about the relationship.
You will get a quality guy when you help men to self-select (or unselect themselves). You can do this by courageously pursuing interactions that work well with quality men.
Yes, you will likely end up sifting through more potential partners this way, but in the end you will have wasted far less time (because you avoid long relationships that are going nowhere).
For now, allow me to offer you two pieces of advice that can be quite useful if you’re going to attempt “the talk” with a guy you’ve been seeing.
A survey was done as men walked out of marriage license bureaus.
These are the guys we most want to hear from. They are the men who fell head-over-heels in love…AND popped the question, “Will you marry me?”
The survey asked why. Why did you ask this woman to marry you?
The survey revealed men’s number one reason for initial attraction to a woman was her energetic and positive attitude.
In other words, being upbeat and happy is attractive to men who want a life-long commitment.
It turns out that putting happiness as a high priority in your life can help you catch a keeper. They may be lured in by that sexy, pouty lower lip, but it won’t hold them for long.
Men may not be emotional geniuses, but their instincts serve them well on this measure of emotional intelligence. Are there ways to change your own basic happiness level?
Yes! I’m sure you’ve experienced it yourself at various times in your life.
It’s both a love story and an action movie. Richard Gere’s portrayal of Lancelot was fantastic, and the pain you feel for King Arthur (played by Sean Connery) is only matched by the longing to see Guinevere and Lancelot give in to the heart-pounding lust they feel for each other.
In the opening scene we discover Lancelot dueling commoners with his broadsword to make money. After easily defeating each of the brave men that stepped forward, one man in particular wanted to know how he had managed a particular maneuver that disarmed him.
To tell you the truth, I’m not exactly sure what that means. What is an “easy breezy cover girl?” I certainly don’t want you to be “easy,” because that is a turnoff to guys that are looking for a real commitment. Aspiring to be a “cover girl” is a ridiculous pursuit that suggests you’re trying to win some sort of beauty pageant. You’re not in a contest with other women to be the most beautiful. I hope you don’t think of yourself that way as you enter the dating scene. That would be suicide for your ability to get the one piece that actually is important: being “breezy.”
Think back to a sleepy Wednesday afternoon at work. On a day when you felt uninspired, your energy was low, and your mind was wandering aimlessly. Having trouble remembering a time like this? It may be hard to remember because it’s just not memorable.
In this article, we’re going to discuss an easy way to be more memorable to a guy you like.
People like to talk about time management. The simple truth is, time management comes down to a few simple principles like chunking your time, decreasing distractions, and then actually sticking with your priorities. Recently, however, personal development gurus have started to catch on to a growing trend. It’s energy management.
Energy management is all about conserving and focusing energy, not time. With peak energy, you can accomplish more in less time.
When it comes to dating guys, the energy you bring to an interaction predicts the outcome better than the amount of time you spend talking with him.
Think back to a time when you were interacting with someone who had a buzz of energy. Maybe it was because of the fascinating topic they were focused on.
Think about the way their eyes move when they are really interested in what they are describing or the story they are relaying. Think about the vocal tones that carry their words. Think about their hand motions and the way they shift their feet as they talk.
When a person is interested in something, they come alive.
It’s the last thing marriage counselors have on their mind, but it’s a dangerous situation. A couple on the verge of divorce comes to the office to seek counseling. The counselor tries to help. Unfortunately, the methods counselors use to help often lead to feelings of attraction toward the counselor. It’s like the counseling room is a Petri dish for sexual attraction.
You may be wondering what those factors are? Wouldn’t you like to sneak into a graduate school classroom and listen in as the professor lists the factors that can inadvertently cause one member of the couple to feel attracted to the therapist? Well I’ve got good news for you. I found someone who actually did sit through that lecture and he spilled the beans.