3 Strategies to Tame a Guy Who ALWAYS Has to Win

3 Strategies to Tame a Guy Who ALWAYS Has to Win“He has to win at everything!”

Damona was exasperated.

“We can’t even go for a game of mini golf without his ‘gotta-win’ hat going on. It’s not even fun anymore. We go for a hike, he’s gotta pass everyone else on the trail. I keep telling him it’s not a race to the finish line. Stop and smell the roses, you know?”

I knew. “Have you tried talking to him about it?”

“Every time.” She rolled her eyes. “He claims he gets it, and tries to explain the idea better than I did. Then he’s back to his old ways.”

This is what I knew about Damona’s partner. He worked in finance. He’d been a star athlete in college. Status mattered to him. He worked hard so he could play hard.

Status mattered to Damona, too. She liked being with a man who was successful and treated her like a queen.

But that very thing she fell for in him—his ambition and drive—was making their relationship intolerable.

He never relaxed, she said. He turned everything into a competition. How many minutes would it take him to vacuum the house? Could he do the dishes faster than she could load them in the dishwasher?

She wouldn’t have minded so much—after all, it was great he shouldered his share of the chores—except that he rubbed her nose in it every time he “beat” her.

He won; she lost. He was the man. She did it like a girl.

It made Damona’s blood boil. “I tell him, ‘We’re not in kindergarten! Grow up already!’”

If you’ve ever dated a competitive guy, you know how hard it can be.

Why does he DO that?

Why does he turn everything into a competition? Why does he brag about winning?

How can you get him to see that “winning” in love looks a lot different from winning on the sports field?

After all, YOU know that it’s better to be happy than to be right. It’s better to lose an argument than lose your partner’s respect.

Unfortunately, those concepts don’t always fly in the boardroom.

A man who doesn’t prioritize winning can find himself falling behind his more competitive colleagues.

Competitiveness is important to men. It defines their relationships from a very young age. Any time a group of boys gets together, their playfulness quickly turns competitive.

Trying to beat each other serves a purpose. It establishes their place in the pecking order. The boys who end up on top become “alphas.” The boys who lose are relegated to “beta” status.

So the very thing Damona loved about her guy—his high status—was a direct result of his competitiveness.

Is it possible to break past this kind of barrier in a relationship?

I believe it is, and I’d like to share 3 strategies to help with that today. These strategies can help you survive life with an overly competitive man.

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Free Your Man from Anti-Commitment Peer Pressure

Free Your Man from Anti-Commitment Peer PressureLewis Howes had it all.

A seven-figure business.

A bestselling book for which he was about to go on tour.

An athletic career that had catapulted him all the way to the pros.

So, the first thing he did?

Break up with his long-term girlfriend.

Why tie himself down? A man like him didn’t have to settle. He had options.

Why work on a relationship that was messy and difficult and not always that rewarding…

When he could cut loose and enjoy the lifestyle he deserved as an attractive, globe-trotting bachelor?

It didn’t take long before he regretted his decision.

On tour, staying in one nondescript hotel room after another, he realized he was alone.

“I was asking myself about the point of it all,” he writes. “I had no one to share it with. I had no intimacy or deep connection with anyone else.”[1]

You’ve probably heard versions of this story before.

A normal guy, with a wonderful woman who loves him, achieves amazing career success … then announces his divorce.

Why do men throw away the best thing that ever happened to them?

What do they think they’re hoping to gain by choosing casual flings over a committed relationship?

Some say it’s just the way men are. They’ve evolved to spread their genes.

But the truth is that most men want to get married and have children someday. The wedding industry is alive and well, driven by vast numbers of men getting down on one knee. These men chose love—and they couldn’t be happier.

Others say that it’s the woman’s fault. She’s not doing or saying the “right things” to make him commit.

Howes wants us to consider a different perspective.

He thinks that what keeps men from committing is peer pressure.

Not just any peer pressure, either.

But the worst kind of all…

The pressure from society, culture, friends and family to “be a man.”

In his incredibly personal book, The Mask of Masculinity, Howes unravels what he learned about being a man—and suggests ways you can help the man in your life experience a break through.

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3 Criteria to Spot an Emotionally Healthy Man

3 Criteria to Spot an Emotionally Healthy Man“I want to find me a mature man. A guy who’s responsible, who treats me right, who doesn’t come with a whole lotta baggage I’m supposed to fix for him. Where is he, James? Can you find me this man?”

Taraji was on fire. She leaned forward to emphasize her words. There was nothing I wanted more than to tell her, “Yes! I know exactly where he is, and I’ll introduce you tomorrow.”

But I couldn’t.

I’m not a matchmaker. I don’t break confidentiality to match my clients with each other.

Nevertheless, I could empathize with Taraji completely. So many of the women who come through my office struggle with a dating scene that seems to reward immaturity. Tinder can be pretty shallow. There are a lot of big egos out there.

I knew Taraji was in a pretty good place to meet someone on her level. She was in her 30s, with a stable sense of who she was as a person. She wasn’t just socializing online; she was open to meeting men at work, at the gym, and through friends.

But Taraji, like many women I know, didn’t always vet her potential boyfriends for maturity.

She liked men with a cocky, confident attitude. She appreciated an expert flirt.

If he was suave, good-looking, and keen on her, she gave him a shot.

And that was fine, as long as that’s what she wanted.

But now she was telling me it wasn’t enough. She wanted an emotionally healthy man. Someone who’d sorted out his stuff. Someone who was done with dating and ready for a relationship.

That’s a whole different ballgame.

Most women already know there are a few important things you need to check out on that first date. Do you have enough in common? Are your long-term goals compatible? Do you get each other’s sense of humor? Do you have chemistry?

Those are all important. But there’s another factor that often gets forgotten:

Is he emotionally healthy?

You’ll run into a lot of guys who aren’t as mature as you are. They’ve got issues they haven’t addressed. They don’t know how to relate to a woman in a way that strengthens their relationship.

These men may be fun to date. But you may be in a stage of your life where fun isn’t as appealing as it used to be. Maybe you’re looking for something else, like Taraji was.

When your relationship goals shift, the way you select men has to shift, too.

You can’t just pick the same men you’ve always dated. You have to look for different criteria.

I recommend adding these 3 criteria to your list of what you’re looking for in Mr. Right. They’ll help you weed out the immature men and spot a mature man a lot faster.

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3 Qualities of Great #RelationshipGoals

3 Qualities of Great #RelationshipGoalsEveryone has #RelationshipGoals.

A tropical holiday with a gorgeous guy.

A white wedding planned down to the tiniest details.

A house full of kids, laughter, and at least one dog.

What are yours?

Relationship goals are more than just a fun hashtag. They’re life or death.

You won’t die if your relationship doesn’t have goals, but your relationship might.

Relationships without goals are like boats with no sails or paddles. They sit there, drifting with the tides, often ending up somewhere no one wanted to be.

Goals help you set a course. They ensure you’ll get somewhere.

As fun as it might be to find a quiet moment on a boat with your beloved, soaking up the sun and nibbling canapes, it’s even more fun knowing you’re en route to somewhere wonderful. Like your own private island, perhaps?

In a minute, I’ll show you what makes a relationship goal effective (as opposed to merely aspirational).

But first let me point out something interesting. You’ve been harnessing the power of relationship goals all your life without realizing it.

Have you ever noticed how important it feels to move to that next stage in your relationship?

When you’re dating, you can’t wait until he calls you his girlfriend.

When you’re his girlfriend, you wonder when you’re going to meet his parents or move in together.

When you’re living together, you wonder when he’s going to propose.

After the wedding, you start thinking about starting a family together.

After starting a family together … well, what do you think happens next?

Is that it? Is this what you’ve waited for all your life? Can you be happy now, with no more goals to achieve?

Probably not.

Something happens when that forward momentum stops.

When couples achieve all their relationship goals, they don’t live happily ever after. They start to drift apart.

There’s nothing more to accomplish in their relationship. They’re married now. That should be enough…

But it isn’t.

So maybe they try for another child. Buy a bigger house. Change jobs. Do something to feel like they’re getting somewhere.

But making more money or moving somewhere new isn’t going to give your relationship direction. It’s just going to keep you busy in different ways.

Relationship goals keep your relationship focused. They add meaning and structure to your shared life story. (I talk about this in Module 8 of His Secret Obsession.)

Effective relationship goals—ones that strengthen your relationship—have 3 traits that make them different from the tongue-in-cheek #RelationshipGoals on social media.

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Are You Too Nice to Break Up with Him?

Are You Too Nice to Break Up with Him?You’ve been dating for a while.

He’s a good guy. A really good guy.

He’s nice, your parents like him, he’s got a solid career, and he picks up after himself.

What do you have to complain about?

And yet…

The thought of walking down the aisle with him fills your heart with dread. Because he has some habits that really bother you. And you’re not sure if it’s just a phase or the beginning of a downward spiral.

So what should you do?

Break up with him?

Stick with it and hope things get better?

I’m going to offer a different suggestion.

One that goes counter to everything most people do.

If you’re like most people, you don’t pay a lot of attention to those relationship doubts at first. It’s not like you’re committed.

But if your girlfriends ask, you’re honest. You mention your reservations about him. They’re encouraging. They want you to be happy. They want to see you with someone who’s good for you.

Maybe you talk it over with your mother, and she gives you that old platitude, “Time will tell.”

So you go back to him, and you keep seeing each other. You take each day as it comes. Besides, your relationship is comfortable. It’s much better than being single. He doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to have “The Talk” about your future, so you don’t have to decide anything yet.

But…

Is this state of indecision serving you?

Is it serving your relationship?

And what about him? Are you completely certain he’s in the dark about your doubts?

Does he really have no clue you’ve got one foot in the relationship and one foot out?

Or is he doing exactly what you’re doing:

Avoiding the topic so neither of you have to face the uncomfortable truth that you might not be suited to each other?

That’s why I suggest doing something that might hurt a bit but will ultimately serve your relationship (and you) better in the long run.

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The Mindset Makeover for Confidence

The Mindset Makeover for ConfidenceThis article is about building your social confidence and optimism. So you might find this next sentence a bit strange.

It’s common for Buddhist monks to meditate on death. Specifically, their own death.

Why would they do that? Well, Buddhists seek enlightenment, a state of blissful oneness and joy that can only emerge in a person who has relinquished all attachment to self-referential goals.

By contemplating how the world will continue on without them, long after their death, these monks become less afraid, less selfish, and more interested in the unfolding beauty of the present moment.

It helps them to detach from fear and take one step closer to bliss.

Perhaps that’s why peak performance psychologist, Michael Gervais says, “The most powerful people in the world are those that have nothing to lose.” We tend not to get nervous when we have nothing to lose.

Dr. Gervais has worked with some of the world’s top performers, like the Seattle Seahawks, Felix Baumgartner (the Red Bull athlete who completed the stratosphere Jump), Olympians, musicians, and other champions who face high-stakes performance situations for a living. So I believe he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to handling anxiety.

Fortunately, he realizes it’s unrealistic for most of us to achieve a mental state where we literally believe we have nothing to lose. So for us mere mortals, he offers this alternative:

“Those who have nothing to PROVE are incredibly powerful.”

When it comes to dating and building strong romantic relationships, this mindset can relieve a lot of stress and tension. You relax a little when you don’t feel the need to prove your worth.

The actor, Matthew McConaughey explains it well in a commencement speech he gave about finding happiness. He says his acting career really took off when he stopped using his acting as a means to an end, and instead threw himself completely into the work itself.

He stopped thinking about getting famous, winning awards, or gaining the approval of his peers in the acting world. Instead, he tried to find joy in the work itself. And he says that’s when he suddenly began to receive acting awards. That’s when his career really took off.

Why? Because he stopped chasing happiness. The strange truth is, happiness is only a byproduct of achieving goals. But each time we achieve a goal, we just raise the bar. So happiness is a fleeting experience. Only a ripple that occurs for a short time after each new desire is achieved.

Joy is different.

Joy is a lasting sense of well-being that emerges from fully immersing ourselves in the process of living life well. In the process of working. In the process of being a good parent. In the process of meeting potential partners. In the process of inviting a partner into deeper levels of shared intimacy.

Joy happens along the way. It emerges on the journey.

What would happen if you became less concerned with outcomes in your romantic relationship? Would you find yourself feeling more confident as a result?

An enlightened person no longer experiences the world through the typical filter the rest of us do. Through meditation, they learn to observe their own thoughts and then mentally separate themselves from the natural desires that typically drive our daily thoughts, interpretations, and emotional reactions.

Maybe you’re not into meditation. But what would happen if, before your next date, you simply paused to consider what the world will be like 200 years beyond your own death? Do you think it might awaken something inside of you?

Might it cause the light of your being to burn more brightly as you relinquish the need to control the future, and instead become fascinated with just this one vibrant experience of interacting with another human being?

That’s one way to practice a mindset that unlocks your natural confidence.

You see, Michael Gervais says confidence is a skill. You’re not born with it. You have to train it.

Just like everything else, your genetics are involved, and your upbringing and environment are involved. But so are the choices you make about what gets your attention. In other words, you can train your mind toward things like optimism and confidence.

But it doesn’t happen automatically just because you had parents who loved you, or just because you had 12 or more years of education.

Your mindset is up to you. No one else is going to train it for you.

Carol Dweck has rocketed on to the public scene with her book, Mindset. And the reason is simple. It’s a message we needed to hear.

Though her book is primarily about raising children so that they love learning, there’s a deeper message in there for all of us. And the deeper message is that anxiety hampers performance and learning.

Anxiety has the worst impact on kids who are labeled as “smart.” Why? Because those kids gradually develop a fixed mindset. The idea that being smart is something you are or you aren’t… and the tests will tell you which one you are.

In contrast, the kids who go on to do great things, get PhD’s, and develop a lifelong love of learning are the ones who have a growth mindset. These children are encouraged to see their grades as feedback about the process of learning rather than feedback about whether or not they are a smart person.

The key to decreased anxiety and increased confidence is a growth mindset. So what does this mean for your relationships?

It means you should revel in the process of getting better at relationships. Focus less on future outcomes and more on getting better each day or each minute.

If you feel nervous on a date, treat it like an opportunity to practice and learn. Take on the “growth mindset.”

For example, you could turn your attention to practicing good small talk skills. Or turn your attention to the skill of reading his nonverbal signals. Or simply focus on building your skill for practicing gratitude right at that moment.

With time, this mindset training will become a part of your identity. And you won’t want to give it up.

Always on your side,
James

P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll love the other two articles in this series on building your natural reservoir of confidence. Choose your next step toward confidence by clicking one of the articles below.

Flirting Bootcamp
Social Skills Bootcamp








Social Skills Boot Camp

Social Skills Boot CampI like confident people.

Especially when the source of their confidence is good social skills (rather than good looks, wealth, or accomplishments). Because, here’s the thing about a person who is socially adept…

They can:

Do you want to feel more confident? Then let’s boost your social skills!

Few things can boost your social confidence more than taking action to deliberately build your social skills. And if you’re like most people, you’ve never done ANYTHING to purposefully develop your social confidence.

Of all the things you had to study in school, charisma was not one of them. If only we had spent as much time with a charisma instructor as we did with our P.E. instructors.

In lieu of that educational deficit, I’d like to provide you my top 10 list of specific actions you can take if you choose to purposely build up your social skills.

This list is by no means exhaustive. And not all of my methods will work for you. But I’d encourage you to peruse this list in search of just two methods you could use to invest in your confidence this week.

Ready? Okay, here we go.

The James Bauer Top 10 List of Ways to take action for Enhanced Social Confidence.

  1. Ask your friends those etiquette questions that have bugged you for years.
    Being uncertain about social expectations makes us feel insecure. Whether it’s business etiquette, dating etiquette, email etiquette, dining etiquette, or anything else, don’t live with that uncertainty! It’s simply unnecessary. Follow these steps:

  2. Read How To Be More Interesting, by Jessica Hagy.
    This is one of those books that is not only helpful, but also fun to read. It’s almost more of a picture book than a real self-help book. Yet the golden nuggets it contains are worth your attention.

  3. Make lists of things you like about people.
    Here’s why you should do this. Writing slows down our thoughts, allowing new insights to emerge and solidifying concepts in our memory. As a result of making this list, you will naturally find those things you like about people emerging in your conversations with them. And there are few things that make people like us more than knowing we like them.

  4. Get confident about the way you look.
    Maxwell Maltz published a book in 1960 called Psycho-Cybernetics. He was a plastic surgeon who became fascinated by the way people’s self-confidence often improved in dramatic ways after rather insignificant plastic surgery operations.

    His book is now famous as a self-help classic. And that’s because it showed how much our self-perception affects our confidence.

    The truth is, physical attractiveness can make you more confident, but only because of how it changes your thoughts about yourself.

    Sometimes, people lose self-confidence because of gaining weight. Other people might still think you look fine. But all you see in the mirror is a body that doesn’t reflect the way you want to look. If that’s true for you, don’t use random experimentation in your efforts to lose weight. Follow these steps:

  5. Tell stories about your flops, failures, and unmet goals.
    Most of us spend far too much time trying to impress others. The truth is, we are most drawn to those who seem real. And people seem most real when they admit their flaws, openly discuss their struggles in life, and invite us to do the same. Follow these steps:

  6. Practice reading between the lines.
    Try to guess what people are thinking or feeling. When you have a private moment with them, verbally reflect on what you have noticed. Reflect on it in the form of a question, “Are you feeling tired today?”

    Here’s why. You’ll either be right or wrong. In most cases, they will give you corrective feedback. This accomplishes two things at once. First, you enhance your ability to read the thoughts and feelings of others. Second, you display interest and empathy, encouraging people to open up about their inner world. And of course, that tends to enhance relationships.

    We all have innate talents. But most people underestimate the power of feedback. Use feedback to gradually improve your ability to read the thoughts and feelings of others.

  7. Assume others feel more insecure than you do.
    Do you try to project an air of confidence even when you feel a bit insecure? So does everybody else. And that’s why you should operate on the assumption that even people who look cool, calm, and collected may be feeling insecure on the inside.

    Just realizing this can help you take the focus off yourself, which has a way of calming nerves and making you feel more confident. Focus on making other people feel accepted, interesting, and funny. Follow these steps:

  8. Start 15 conversations per day.
    Treat it like a game. Reach for conversation starters that seem to energize conversations almost instantly. This is a skill you can only get better at with practice. Follow these steps:

  9. Learn how to use mnemonics to remember people’s names.
    When I was 19, as a sophomore in college, a psychology professor told me about mnemonics. I was immediately intrigued with the idea of studying less and remembering more. So I bought a book about mnemonics.

    That book had several useful techniques. But to this day, the skill I use the most is for remembering people’s names the first time I meet them, and rarely (if ever) for getting them.

    Now, I loaned that book to a friend 20 years ago, and (ironically) I don’t remember the name of the book. But this one is written better and explains the same concepts.

  10. At social gatherings, break past small talk.
    Many people feel nervous about social gatherings. We don’t want to look dumb, standing there with no one to talk to and nothing to say. Even if you have no interest in being “the life of the party,” you still want to look like you belong.

    Here’s the thing. Everyone else wants the same thing. But we often get stuck in endless cycles of small talk no one enjoys. To break past small talk, follow these steps:

And finally, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Try to enjoy the warmth of friendship rather than impressing people all the time. You’ll enjoy life more and end up making a better impression.

Till next time,

James








Flirting Boot Camp

Flirting Boot CampFlirting is essential to building AND maintaining romantic relationships.

Whether you’ve been too self-conscious to start, or you just want to expand your comfort with flirting, this article will help. We’re going to rapidly review the basics…the “active ingredients” of flirting.

When you understand that flirting is nothing more than a language of interest, you will begin to see new opportunities to use it. You’ll use it to increase the energy flowing between you and a man you like.

A lot of people think they cannot flirt. They’re afraid they’ll look stupid or get rejected. But think of it this way, flirting can range from extremely subtle to outrageously daring.

The subtle forms of flirting offer the least intrusive, least risky ways of demonstrating interest. So if you feel nervous, start there. (I’ll show you how in just a minute).

Start thinking of flirting as nothing more than a special language designed to increase the energy between two people.

You send a message that allows the recipient to read between the lines. You are sending a message of unspoken possibilities.

And by the way, everyone has a right to flirt. You don’t need to have a gorgeous figure or flawless skin to get in on this game.

Yes, taking action to build confidence in your looks is important too. That’s another place where it helps to follow a proven system to remove all the guesswork. Something like the Venus factor for rapid weight loss, or The Metabolic Factor if you’ve succeeded with weight loss in the past but your metabolism is too slow to keep the weight off long term.   

Do everything you can to feel attractive. If you haven’t already seen it, Leslie Munsell’s amazing shake recipe book can do wonders for your skin, which research suggests is your “sexiest organ.” Maybe that’s because your skin broadcasts a lot about our health.

But good looks won’t necessarily rid you of fear. Some of my most attractive clients feel too nervous to openly flirt with a guy. Why? Because they lack experience.

But I have good news for you. The best antidote to fear is practice, and that practice will be much easier if you start out so subtle that he doesn’t even notice at first.

You’ve got to start somewhere. Get your feet wet, and then gradually wade in to less subtle forms of flirting as it begins to feel less like a performance and more like a language you’re already fluent in. A language of fun and possibility.

Principles of Flirting

I will try to sum up the most important principles for flirting in a single sentence.

Exude warmth while taking risks to demonstrate interest so he feels good about himself and the interaction.

Now, breaking that sentence down, here are some key points you want to keep in mind:

I want to add one additional principle here. Flirting is not something you do continuously.

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How to Bring Out the Best in People

How to Bring Out the Best in PeopleDo you instinctively know things about people the moment you meet them?

Most people do. Because we pick up on nonverbal signals.

I recently walked into a room of 13 people and immediately sensed something different about one of them.

She was their leader.

It was a room full of people I had never laid eyes on before. Yet I immediately felt the steady warmth and confidence she radiated.

The effect on me? I immediately relaxed. Because I’ve learned that confident leaders are easy to work with. They don’t feel insecure, so they have nothing to prove.

And it shows in the way they treat other people. They’re more focused on building others up than proving their own superiority. (By the way, that’s a good trait to look for in a man as well.)

I ended up having a really good time with that group of people over the next two hours. Maybe it’s because of the way a confident leader brings out the best in people.

As Joe Namath put it, “When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have a lot of fun, you can do amazing things.”

Do you want confidence? Do you want to feel so confident that you naturally bring out the best in people? If so, it helps to consider where confidence comes from.

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How to Love Like Wonder Woman

How to Love Like Wonder WomanSuperheroes don’t have it easy.

Romance is always troubled for them.

Yet how often have you thought your life would be easier if only you were Wonder Woman?

If only you DID have superpowers. Then you could get everything done, put the world to rights, look great in skintight clothes, and still get home in time to relax and catch a few episodes of your favorite show.

But life isn’t any easier for superheroes than it is for the rest of us.

If anything, it’s even harder for them to find love.

They don’t know if the person who falls for them will still feel the same once he or she finds out their true identity. They can’t commit when they don’t know when they’ll next be called away to serve justice.

Falling in love makes them weak. Once their arch nemesis discovers their secret love, they’re vulnerable in a way they weren’t before.

So maybe you’re not a superhero, but you might be able to relate to some of those fears.

Will he still love you once he sees the things you’ve dedicated your life to?

Will falling in love take away some of your power? Can you afford to depend on someone who might get sick, die, or betray you?

How can you commit to him when you don’t know what the future is going to be?

Superheroes don’t tend to show up in my office looking for a relationship coach…

But if one did, here’s the advice I’d give.

1. It’s okay to be a little selfish.

Superheroes have an unfortunate tendency to keep rescuing the one they love.

Why? Because they are so busy saving the world that the person they love ends up getting neglected.

It’s the whole, “With great power comes great responsibility,” complex. “Sorry, I know it’s our anniversary, but I have to go because I hear sirens in the distance.”

A real relationship can only unfold when the two of you build your story together. That means you have to work together to protect the relationship you share. It means you’re going to be a bit selfish, spending more time impressing your partner than you spend impressing everyone else.

It means you let him “save you” once in a while so he feels manly and strong. And it means you save him once in a while and make no apology for putting him first in your life.

2. Take off the cape at home.

When a superhero takes off her cape, she’s vulnerable. She’s just an ordinary woman. She doesn’t have her sword and shield on hand.

That can be scary. What if you trust him and he hurts you? What if he’s an evil villain in disguise?

That’s a risk even superheroes take.

They take it because they know something important:

If they cannot be known, they cannot be loved.

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Use Your “Happiness Compass” to Get the Life You Want

Use Your “Happiness Compass” to Get the Life You WantYou want what you want.

Quick—list 5 things you really want. Things you know will make your life better.

What was on your list?

Your dream job, dream house, dream car, dream body, dream guy?

We all know our lives would be better off with a fatter bank account, more vacation time, a beautiful home, a fulfilling career, and a partner who adores us.

But thinking about those things can make you feel kind of sad.

Will it ever happen?

Will you ever get the home and job and partner of your dreams?

Or is THIS your life? Look around you. If your life never changed from what it is now, would you be content?

For most of us, the answer is no. Life, as it is, isn’t enough. What keeps us going is the dream that someday we’ll get all those things we want, and we’ll be truly happy.

Which means we can’t be happy now.

Not when we don’t have what we want.

What’s worse, there’s such a gap between what you want and what you have. It can feel as if you’ll never bridge it.

Other people don’t seem to have that problem. They want something; they get it. You want something; you watch other people get it. Not fair.

But there is one thing that works.

I call it “small adjustments.”

When you know what you want your ideal life to feel like and you make daily choices to foster those feelings, you end up living the life of your dreams sooner rather than later.

Here’s how it works.

It all starts from the premise that what we want isn’t actually what we want.

We think we want the house, the job, the car…

But what we really want are the FEELINGS we think those things will give us.

What we really want is to be happy. To feel loved. To enjoy life.

Maybe the things we want will give us those feelings … and maybe they won’t.

Either way, wouldn’t it make more sense to set your sights on happiness, rather than the things you think will make you happy?

Think of it like trying get to San Francisco (happiness) from New York (your current life).

You certainly could plan to go through Cleveland (the career), Chicago (the house) and Salt Lake City (the man). That route would probably get you there eventually.

But why not just plug your destination into your GPS? Then, at every crossroads, you can adjust your route with your final destination in mind. Does this make me feel loved? Is this really making me happy?

Those small adjustments keep you going in the right direction, even when the route is one you’d never have planned.

When you keep your focus on the way you want your life to feel, rather than what you think your life should look like, you stay flexible. You’re more resilient, better able to overcome setbacks and find creative solutions to problems.

To use this technique for yourself, try this exercise.

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When You Can’t Respect the Man You Love, Try These 3 Tips

When You Can’t Respect the Man You Love, Try These 3 TipsI’d been watching Amanda and Jason struggle for some time.

They’d always seemed like such a strong couple. They started dating in college and moved together to Chicago to start their respective careers. Although they weren’t married, they’d been together longer than many married couples. It would be 10 years next May.

But Amanda’s career had flourished while Jason’s flagged. He’d gotten laid off three months ago. Amanda’s income was enough for them to survive on, barely.

I bumped into them a while back at a social gathering. I could immediately see that the stress was getting her down. Amanda had lost even more weight off her already slim frame. She couldn’t seem to stand still.

Jason, on the other hand, seemed more relaxed than ever. Amanda told me he was spending his days in sweatpants on the sofa, playing video games.

Jason was in good form that night, holding court about the time he won a bowling tournament. When he finished his story, everyone laughed but Amanda. “Because winning at games makes you a real man,” she whispered theatrically to her girlfriends, rolling her eyes.

Instinctively, I glanced back at Jason. If I hadn’t been fast I wouldn’t have caught it: the way his lips tightened and his head shook almost imperceptibly.

Amanda and Jason were in trouble.

It’s not my place to advise my friends about what they should do in their relationships, unless they come to me and explicitly ask. I hoped Amanda would ask. Two weeks later, she did.

She called to complain about Jason. He still hadn’t found work. What could she do to light a fire under him?

“You may not like my answer,” I told her. “Are you sure you want my advice?”

“Of course!” she said. “Anything. I’m desperate. We can’t go on like this much longer. If I come home one more time to see him holding that stupid controller, I just might smash it.”

I told her about the Respect Principle. When you lose respect for the man you love, I explained, he feels it. He withdraws from you. Over time the distance grows, putting your relationship at risk.

“But I’ve been so supportive!” she argued. “I’ve done everything I can to help him and encourage him and make it easy for him. But he does nothing. He just sits there on that stupid couch with his stupid games.”

“So what you’re telling me is that you can’t respect a man you don’t respect?”

“Exactly,” she said. “Right now, I don’t respect Jason at all.”

“And that’s why he’s not listening to you,” I said. “You can try to motivate him until you’re blue in the face, but it’s not going to do any good.”

The phone went silent. I could hear Amanda take a deep breath.

“You love Jason, right? You want to stay together?”

“Yes.”

“Then try a different tactic. Here are the 3 steps I’d suggest.”

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The Simple Power of Appreciation

The Simple Power of AppreciationWhat makes a man fall a little harder for his beloved each day?

Is it everything she does for him? The way she looks? Those killer chocolate brownies?

No doubt those could all help, but there is one quality that trumps them all:

Appreciation.

That’s the conclusion of University of North Carolina social psychology professor Sara Algoe, anyway.

Dr. Algoe is a strong proponent of gratitude, claiming that it forms the foundation of our relationships:

“Feelings of gratitude and generosity are helpful in solidifying our relationships with people we care about.”[1]

Just think about what happens to relationships when one or both people take each other for granted.

You hear it all the time: “He expects me to do everything for him.” “She doesn’t appreciate how much I do.”

Appreciation goes a long way towards helping us feel acknowledged for the work we put into a relationship.

Dr. Algoe suggests that expressing gratitude towards your partner can help him behave more lovingly towards you.

“Whenever you have an interaction with your romantic partner,” she says, “that feeling you have when you walk away sets the stage for the next interaction with that person.”[2]

In other words, when he feels appreciated by you, he feels appreciative of you.

This is an easy idea to test for yourself. Simply tell your partner how much you appreciate something about him. Then see if you can tell a difference in his behavior.

But before you do, let me show you something weird about the way men respond to appreciation. Otherwise, your appreciation can backfire.

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3 Relationship Habits that Will Get You More Happiness

3 Relationship Habits that Will Get You More HappinessImagine you’ve gone to L.A. on business. Nothing exciting. Just a conference in one of those soulless hotels near the airport.

You sneak a moment away and find a coffee shop. You just want to sit for a moment, relax, and take in that SoCal vibe.

As you’re sitting there, you see a man walk in.

Your jaw drops open. It couldn’t be! Is it? It is.

It’s the guy you watch every week on your TV screen. Your favorite celeb crush of all time!

He strides up to the counter, orders a coffee, and looks around him. Then he sees you.

His eyes widen. He freezes.

Oh no, you think. You’ve spilled something on your top. You glance down, hoping to sort out whatever he’s spotted before you embarrass yourself even further.

But when you look up, he’s at your table. Introducing himself. Asking if he could sit down.

Two hours later, you’ve missed all your meetings but could care less. He wants your phone number. He wants to know how he can see you again.

All love affairs start with magic.

Meeting each other out of the blue. Seeing each other as if for the first time. A shudder of unbearable excitement.

In that giddy swirl of love, lust and hope, it’s impossible to imagine you’ll ever feel differently about him.

If anything, you’re sure your love will grow even stronger. You’ll never be able to look at this man and not swoon in happiness. Being with him for the rest of your life would be like buying a winning lottery ticket. A lifetime of joy and bliss.

But here’s what researchers have discovered…

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The Truth about Your Psychic Link with Your Beloved

The Truth about Your Psychic Link with Your BelovedScientists come up with the craziest ideas.

Ever wondered if you and your pet have some sort of psychic link?

Turns out you do … only it’s not psychic so much as electromagnetic.

And it’s the same link you have with your significant other, only it’s more easily measured in animals.

One day, the director of the HeartMath Institute, Dr. Rollin McCraty, invited his 12-year-old son and his dog to the lab.

He fitted the two of them with electrocardiogram recorders, which record heart rhythms.

He asked his son to sit down in a chair and ignore the dog completely. The boy wasn’t supposed to interact with his pet in any way.

Instead, the boy focused on feeling into his heart and radiating love and appreciation for his pet, an exercise called a “Heart Lock-In.”

Not only did the boy’s heartbeat slow and become more rhythmic, but the dog’s heartbeat became synchronized with its owner’s—at the exact time the boy was doing the Heart Lock-In.

Then the boy got up and left the room. The dog’s heart rate spiked and became erratic. It was no longer linked with the boy’s.

This experiment was no one-off. It was later repeated with a woman and her horses. Again, when the woman was consciously radiating love for her pets, the animals’ heart rates synchronized with hers.

Researchers found evidence of this “heart-to-heart communication” between people when they were (1) sleeping together, (2) watching a loved one do something dangerous (in this case, firewalking), or (3) consciously practicing heart coherence techniques like the Heart Lock-In.

So something happens between you and your loved ones—whether they be human or animal—when you’re physically close and consciously focusing on the love you feel for them.

But what’s going on?

The HeartMath Institute was founded to explore that question. It investigates how we use the power of the heart to improve our health, our relationships, and our world.

And what it found is that the heart generates a powerful electromagnetic field that extends several feet beyond the body. (That field is 5000 times greater than the field produced by the brain.)

When people touch each other, they exchange some of that electromagnetic energy.

And there’s information in that energy we can read.

For example, when a mother holds her baby and places all her attention on her child, her brain waves synchronize to the baby’s heartbeat. She’s literally reading her baby’s electromagnetic signals—but she doesn’t have a clue she’s doing it.

Now here’s the really exciting part:

By consciously cultivating positive emotions, you can affect your heart’s electromagnetic field. You can make it smoother and more rhythmic.

And when you do that, everyone in your presence feels the difference…

Because they’re in contact with your heart’s electromagnetic field.

Their heart rate may not synchronize to yours, if they’re strangers or people who aren’t really close to you, but they’ll feel the difference.

So your emotions are more than just feelings you have inside.

They’re energy broadcast by your heart, and they physically affect other people.

You might be wondering…

How can you use this information to improve your relationships?

How can you get in sync with your loved one, just as the boy and his pet did in the example that opened this article?

It takes just three simple steps.

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How Dating Inevitably Changes You

How Dating Inevitably Changes YouDo you ever wonder what would be different in your life if you hadn’t dated the men you’ve dated? Do relationships actually change who we are?

If you’re a fan of the TV show Parks and Recreation, you may remember Ann’s dating adventures in the third season. She decided to just have fun and date a bunch of different people. So far so good.

But with every new boyfriend, she started behaving differently. At one point she showed up at Leslie’s office wearing a literal cowboy outfit. Eventually, Leslie (being a good friend) told her she was going overboard, changing too much to accommodate the guys she spent time with.

But that’s a TV show. That’s not real, is it?

A recent study suggests it may be closer to the truth than you’d think. Researchers from the University of Connecticut wanted to understand what happens to couples when one half of the couple loses weight.

Turns out, if one person decides to shed some pounds, their partner tends to follow suit—even if the partner doesn’t intentionally go on a diet! “The concept is called the ripple effect,” Amy Gorin, Associate Professor in Psychological Sciences, said. If you get healthier, your guy is likely to get healthier, too.

You already know where this is headed. The opposite also happens. If one person adopts bad habits, so does the other.

We’re heavily influenced by the people around us. Especially the people we date. And we have the power to influence them right back.

That’s a hard pill to swallow for some. It can be uncomfortable to accept that other people change who you are. But I want to encourage you to lean into this truth instead of pushing back against it.

If you accept that you have a lot of influence over your man and he has a lot of influence over you, you can use that fact in some pretty powerful ways. It can even make you a stronger couple.

Want to know how? I can tell you.

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What’s Your One Non-Negotiable Thing?

What’s Your One Non-Negotiable Thing?Jillian met Matt rock-climbing. It was a match made in heaven. Six months later, they’d moved in together and were on their way to happily ever after.

Except, one year later, Jillian was no longer all that happy.

She loved Matt. She still believed he was the One. But she didn’t always enjoy living with him.

In fact, if she were honest, she didn’t enjoy their life together a lot of the time.

“I’m always cleaning up after him. I feel like his mother. He doesn’t treat me like I’m special anymore, you know? I just want him to put some effort in.”

Jillian was hoping I could change Matt. She thought he’d listen to me.

What she wasn’t expecting was my advice to her.

“What’s the one thing you do for yourself?” I asked her.

“Me?” Jillian was startled. “I don’t know. Maybe shopping? Sometimes I splurge.”

“That’s great, but I was thinking more about something you do on a daily or weekly basis. Something you do just because you want to do it.”

“Well, I used to go climbing,” Jillian mused. “But now everything is organized around the climbs Matt wants to do.”

“Any hobbies you enjoy but Matt doesn’t?”

“Well, I used to ride my bike occasionally, but Matt doesn’t have a bike. I guess I used to read more, but now we watch TV in the evenings.”

I nodded. “So, you used to do things on your own, but since you became a couple you do everything together. Am I right?”

“Well, yeah,” Jillian said. “Of course. I mean, we’re a couple.”

I’d spotted the problem.

Jillian had fallen into a common trap. The trap of believing that being a couple means giving up your single pursuits.

This trap is so easy to fall into. When you finally find someone, who syncs with you completely, you want to spend all your free time together. You can’t get enough of each other’s company. Everything is more fun when you do it together.

And that’s fine in the early stages of dating. You don’t have all that much time together. You go home to separate beds, you both have jobs, and so you treasure the precious hours you have together.

But once you merge your lives, you can swing to the other extreme. Now you’re always together. You end up with too much of a good thing.

Counterintuitively, one of the most effective ways to keep the passion alive is not to be together 24-7 … but rather to build in a little distance from each other.

You need your “me” time. It’s non-negotiable.

Here’s how to get it.

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One change that can bring your relationship back to life.

One change that can bring your relationship back to life. When I was seven years old, I found an abandoned kitten in the road. She was missing an eye. And she was so skinny I thought she might die soon.

So naturally, I did what any seven-year-old boy would do in this situation. I took her home.

My parents said I couldn’t keep her. I’m sure they gave a logical explanation, though I can’t remember it now. I just remember feeling sad.

I carried her around outside. She looked up at my face and meowed in an earnest sort of way. I was convinced she was actually trying to talk to me.

The neighbor kids saw me carrying her around and came to investigate. Fortunately, their parents allowed me to leave the kitten with them. She would be an outdoor cat but they would feed her and I was welcome to visit as often as I liked.

She was clearly the runt of the litter. Apparently, the runt is often rejected by the mother in order to preserve her limited resources for her stronger, more viable offspring. Runts are not always rejected, but it’s more common among feral cats, like the one I found.

I’ve always had a soft spot for runts. Maybe because I was a bit of a runt myself.

I was the shortest person in my family. As a freshman in high school, I kept expecting my growth spurt to kick in at any moment. But it never did.

I just kept growing very slowly. By the end of my freshman year, some of my friends looked more like men than boys. I felt small and scrawny next to them.

But that summer, my older brother got his driver’s license, and I began tagging along when he went to a university fitness center (a perk of my dad’s job). A college football coach saw me there and probably took pity on me the same way I took pity on the runt of the kitten litter. He began to mentor me on the basics of strength training.

He would yell at his giant football players for a few minutes, then step over to me for a few seconds, gently pointing out my errors or recommending a different method.

I think he was impressed by the effort I was putting in. Though I never told him my true motivation. His football players were cool and all, but I just wanted to look like my childhood hero, He-Man.  

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A 10-Second Trick for More Love and Joy

A 10-Second Trick for More Love and JoyI’m about to share with you an exercise approved by the HeartMath Institute, a Google pioneer, Dr. David R. Hamilton, and the Dalai Lama.

This simple exercise takes just 10 seconds a day…

But those 10 seconds will have a far-reaching impact on your life.

You’ll feel inexplicably happier. You’ll look younger. And your relationships will never be the same.

Ready to give it a try? You can do it right now, while you’re reading this article.

(Don’t worry: I’m not going to ask you to do anything that will embarrass you. No one will even notice you’re doing this exercise, I promise.)

All you have to do is think of the man in your life.

If you’re not in a relationship, think about someone you’re interested in. You can even pick an ex you still have feelings for.

Got his mental picture in your mind? Great. Now think to yourself:

“I wish for [HIS NAME] to be happy.”

Feel that wish in your heart. You should feel something in your chest, perhaps a loosening or warm sensation.

That’s it! All done.

So what just happened when you did this exercise?

This exercise is a simplified form of the loving-kindness meditation, a Buddhist practice that goes back thousands of years.

It was originally developed to cultivate kindness, compassion, and goodwill towards all living things, but science has discovered that its benefits go far beyond the spiritual.

According to the HeartMath Institute, thinking of a loved one while focusing attention on your heart boosts levels of the anti-aging hormone DHEA.

Dr. David R. Hamilton found that the anti-aging benefits go even further. He points to a small study that showed regular practitioners of loving-kindness have longer telomeres, a biological marker of youth.[1]

It’s extraordinary. Wanting others to be happy can literally make you younger on a physiological level.

But those aren’t the only benefits. Wanting someone else to be happy can make you instantly happier, not to mention what it does for your relationship. Here’s how.

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The Secret Mind Trick that Makes Meeting Guys Less Stressful

The Secret Mind Trick that Makes Meeting Guys Less StressfulWhere do you go to meet guys?

For some, that’s the bar scene. Sure, it’s not ideal, but it is a place full of men. For others, it’s the gym. Or church. Or the grocery store. Or even the office.

Whatever your preferred location, imagine it down to the last detail. What does it smell like? What sounds do you hear? When you find yourself intrigued by a guy, what do you do?

If you’re like most humans, before you even think about saying hi or trying to catch his attention, the very first thing you do is stress out. At least a little.

After all, you’re about to put yourself out there. Maybe he’ll express interest, and maybe he won’t. You’re risking rejection, which is always painful, even if it’s from someone you just met.

Flirting with someone when you have no idea if they’ll flirt back is stressful.

But a recent study done by the University of Kansas suggests there’s a relatively easy way to take stress levels down a few notches. Researchers found an effective technique for making competitive sports less stressful.

“Wait, what?” you say. “James, we’re talking about dating, not football.”

But think about it. Emotionally, sports and dating have a lot in common—especially if you’re trying to spark conversation with a guy in a social setting. There’s competition, risk of failure, and even an audience!

So, how do you lower the stress of flirting?

Researchers saw significant decreases in cortisol (the hormone we produce when we’re stressed out) when athletes engaged in “priming” before they took to the field.

Priming is a simple mental exercise. There are several ways to do it. Here are three suggestions for pulling off your own pre-flirt priming session so you feel more relaxed and do the right things almost automatically.

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Does Dating Advice Really Help?

Does Dating Advice Really Help?I know you’ve asked this question.

At some point you’ve wondered if all these tips are worth anything. Does dating advice really help people find love? It’s a fair question.

In a word, yes. Absolutely.

I’ve seen it happen first hand a number of times. I personally know dozens of women who’ve put my advice into practice and found passionate romance as a result. And I hear back from readers all the time about their relationship success stories.

Still, I get where you’re coming from. It seems like a lot, all these guides and checklists. And even though it can be genuinely helpful, it can also be overwhelming.

And that’s the problem. How do you sort through it all? It’s not like you can literally apply every single insight on your next date.

Just imagine trying that.

Every time a guy picks you up, you’d have to lug a huge cheat sheet around with you. He asks where you want to eat, and you hold up a finger while you frantically cross reference Conversation Starters, Restaurant Choices and First Date Faux Pas!

Not incredibly sexy. So, how about some advice . . . on how to use dating advice?

There’s a way to strike a healthy, practical, fun balance when it comes to dating advice. And it’s anything but complicated. Just keep the following four things in mind.

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The Secret Counselors Use To Get Guys To Open Up

The Secret Counselors Use To Get Guys To Open UpResolving a point of tension in your relationship feels so good.

It feels like a weight being lifted off your shoulders.

After successfully working through a relationship problem, you feel lighter, happier, and more “together” with your partner than you ever did before. Even if it was just a small issue with your boyfriend.

But it can be endlessly frustrating when your partner shuts you down every time you even try to address an issue that bothers you.

That’s where a third-party can help.

And it doesn’t need to be someone you know. Because they have a tendency to take sides. And even if they don’t, they lack the finesse of a professional counselor.

I know what you’re thinking. “My guy would never make an appointment to see a professional relationship counselor.”

But you only think that because you haven’t seen how quick and easy it is to start text-based relationship counseling. (That’s a link to the online counseling service I recommend, by the way.)

I’ve found that men are much more open minded to the idea of relationship counseling when they can just write back and forth with a licensed counselor instead of making an appointment.

The counselor becomes a mediator of sorts. A trusted third party who has a knack for getting both of you to use more of the emotional intelligence you already have, not only to solve problems, but to enhance the relationship in unexpected ways too.

Are you the only one who purposefully nurtures the relationship?

Do you see its amazing potential and purposely invest in it?

If so, it wouldn’t surprise me. Women tend to be the emotional leaders in relationships.

They’re the ones thinking of ways to connect and get closer. They’re the ones reading books and newsletters like this one. They’re always learning how to love better.

Men?

Well, you’ll spot the occasional man reading a relationship book. But guys often fail to see the relationship as a living thing that needs attention. They’d rather leave all that stuff to their wives and girlfriends.

That’s a problem.

When a man abdicates his responsibility for the emotional labor of the relationship, the woman gets stuck with it all.

That’s why it can really pay off to get a licensed relationship counselor working to support your efforts. Even if it’s just for you to have someone to talk to…

A “thinking partner” you can bounce ideas off of as you work on things.

And if you do get him to join the written chat sessions? In that case, a well-trained relationship counselor can take some of the burden off of you, so you stop looking like the bad guy when you ask your man to work on things.

It’s hard to make progress if he gets an attitude every time you try to work on the relationship. A 6-year study of 130 newlyweds found that the strongest predictor of happiness is the husband’s attitude.

If he’s willing to work with his partner, listen to her input, and take her recommendations on board, their marriage is much more likely to last.

Only a third of the men in the study were willing to accept their partner’s influence, however.

Others reacted to their partner’s suggestions with defensiveness, anger, or stonewalling.

They didn’t feel they had to do ANYTHING their partner suggested. They saw the work of relationships—negotiating, compromising—as a struggle for power and control.

Their thinking went something like this:

“She isn’t the boss of me. How dare she criticize me! I work and work, and she doesn’t appreciate it. If I let her have her way this once, she’s going to keep asking. She nags all the time. She just wants to control me.”

That refusal to address conflict or work through disagreements diminishes the potential of a relationship.

What can you do, when your partner refuses to let you influence him?

Not much. You’re stuck.

You may think you can live with it, but know this. If he won’t listen to you, your relationship has an 81% chance of falling apart.

Of course, women don’t always listen to their partners, either. No one is perfect.

But in general women are better at taking their partner’s feelings and preferences into account. That’s their job, as emotional custodians of the relationship. They try to balance everyone’s wants and needs.

But maybe you shouldn’t.

Maybe you should let a professional do the balancing of everyone’s needs. That way you can just say what you need and leave it up to the counselor to make sure he hears that request in the right frame of mind.

Speaking of frame of mind, that’s really the secret sauce for relationship counselors. They’re good at framing problems differently. And that’s a skill you can use too.

You see, counselors are masters of framing discussions in the right light. They set the stage before talking about difficult issues. They accomplish that by getting people into the right frame of mind before tackling stressful topics.

We can all learn something from their tactics. So let me share just one of them with you today. It’s a secret for getting guys to open up.

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Are You Up for the Challenge of Deeper Dating?

Are You Up for the Challenge of Deeper Dating?Why do you date?

To find someone to love for a lifetime, right?

And the best way to do that, most of us assume, is to become the best version of ourselves we can possibly be. Invest in yourself, and love will come calling.

But Ken Page has a different idea.

He wants you to stop fixing yourself and start accepting yourself, exactly as you are right now in this moment.

Because the person you are is PERFECT. Even your flaws. Even your weaknesses. Even your mistakes.

It’s what you think is worst about yourself, he says, that will lead you home.

That’s the idea behind deeper dating, a revolutionary philosophy on love that turns conventional wisdom upside down.

In a world where so many men and women spend precious resources trying to be more appealing to the opposite sex, you’d think it would be easier to find love than ever. We’re better looking. We’re more cosmopolitan. We’re more debonair. 😉

Yet today’s singles find dating to be harder than people did 100 years ago.

Modern women are more attractive, witty, and desirable than ever, yet marriages that last a lifetime are increasingly out of reach.

Could it be because dating has become increasingly artificial? Singles hide their true selves behind a mask of selfies, texts, and Spanx. Everything is designed to appeal to the opposite sex; everything that might be unappealing is carefully hidden.

So, when a man falls for a woman—and she falls for him—they’re falling for each other’s false self. They’re not seeing what’s truest about each other. They’re seeing what the other person wants them to see.

No wonder relationships fall apart so fast.

As you get closer, you begin to trust one another. You let down your guard. You reveal more of your true self. But your true self can look a little (or a lot) different from the woman he met on that first date. Maybe she was confident, but you’re shy. Maybe she was up for anything, while you’re more cautious.

Hopefully, his initial positive impression of you will sweep him past those revelations, but it might not. He might break things off when he sees you’re not the woman he imagined in his head.

Men are just as guilty of presenting a false self on a date. I’m sure you’ve experienced the kind, funny, communicative guy who turns into a dark, monosyllabic jerk once you’re in a relationship!

If what we want is solid, compatible relationships, then we’ve got to stop focusing on acing that first date. We’ve got to focus on authenticity. Showing each other who we truly are, even if that isn’t Insta-worthy.

Here’s what that might look like (and why it’s so valuable).

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The Most Important Conversation Technique You’ll Ever Learn

The Most Important Conversation Technique You’ll Ever Learn“I can’t believe you did that.” Brenda sat, stunned. “I’m so mad at you!”

“Why? Why do you have to control everything I do?” David replied. “I have a right to do things without checking in with you first.”

“Then you shouldn’t have gotten into a relationship, Buster, because that’s what people in relationships do. They check in with each other. They communicate.”

“By yelling at each other? Like you do all the time with me?”

“I’m not yelling! This isn’t about me. This is about you. You not caring. You not respecting me.”

David shrugged. “I’d respect you a lot more if you didn’t blow up at me about everything.”

“I’ve had it.” Brenda got up. “I’m going to go cool off, but this isn’t over.”

Though you might not guess it from this argument, Brenda and David actually loved each other very much. They were one of my favorite couples to work with. Her high-octane energy perfectly complemented his laid-back coolness. They’d been together for years. But they wanted to sort a few things out before taking the next step… to start a family.

Which is why Brenda came to talk to me.

She knew the way she and David argued wasn’t healthy. She didn’t want them to be the kind of parents who fought in front of their kids.

But she didn’t know what to do. They were stuck in a pattern where nothing she did could get through to David. He just ignored her and did what he wanted anyway.

In fact, just moments before this argument, they’d been snuggling together on the couch, watching television. During an ad break, she’d asked him about his day. He casually mentioned the deposit he made for an expensive mountain bike.

Money is one of the biggest trigger points for couples. And my friends were no exception.

Brenda thought they were on the same page about saving up for a deposit on a house. How could they have a family if they didn’t have a family home? And how would David make a good dad if he continued to be so selfish?

I paused and waited till I had Brenda’s full attention before asking her, “Do you really want this pattern to change?”

“Absolutely!” she said.

“Even if it’s going to be hard?”

“I’m in.”

I could see the conviction in her eyes. “Then I’m going to teach you a type of dialogue that’s going to change everything.”

Intentional dialogue is a technique that transforms relationships. ANY kind of relationship.

Your relationship with your partner. Your parents. Your children. Your clients.

It drains the conflict from difficult conversations. It stops the vicious cycle of attack and counterattack. And it makes you feel closer and more connected than ever.

Intentional dialogue will give you the kind of relationship you’ve never had before—one in which it’s safe to voice your feelings. Safe to disagree.

How do you do it?

It’s a three-step process that becomes quite natural the more you use it.

(And the more you use it, the more you’ll want to use it—because you’ll see for yourself how good it feels.)

It goes like this:

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Most People Make At Least One of These 6 Relationship Mistakes

Most People Make At Least One of These 6 Relationship MistakesHave you ever noticed that your romantic challenges seem to be the same, even when you’re with different guys? Would you like to know why?

You’ve probably seen the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. In it, Kate Hudson’s character accepts a weird bet. She wagers she can drive a guy away within 10 days just by committing common relationship mistakes.

She’s possessive and clingy. She picks a fight in a movie theater and then pushes the guy to defend her. She moves things into his apartment . . . within days of meeting him. If there’s a behavior that’s likely to make a guy want to scream and run, she embraces it.

And it’s funny because everyone knows not to do that stuff.

But what about the things that don’t sound like such a bad idea—things you’ve even been advised to do. Things that have become habits.

Some of them really mess with romance, too.

And you’re not like Kate’s character in that movie. You’re not trying to drive a guy away. You’re shooting for real intimacy.

You’re absolutely not sabotaging your dating life on purpose. Everything you do you do for a reason. And yet…

Most people have at least one of the following 6 habits that make relationships harder to succeed with.

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How to Find a Man Who Treasures You

How to Find a Man Who Treasures YouAmanda came to me with an interesting concern.

She was reading romance novels. Nonstop.

And every time she did, she felt like crying. Because her relationship was so far from the love depicted in those pages.

“I wonder if it’s me,” she said. “If I was more amazing, maybe Gary would feel that way about me, too. But then, he’s not exactly a storybook hero himself.”

Amanda and Gary had been together 5 years but had known each other much longer. Amanda loved Gary very much. Being in a long-term relationship suited her. She took great pleasure in looking after Gary and making their life together fun.

But Gary didn’t exactly return the favor.

He was a good man and a hard worker, but romance wasn’t built into him the way it was built into Amanda. He was happy sitting on the sofa chilling out every night. He didn’t really care if they went out or if Amanda made him something special or if she dressed up for him.

“James, I want Gary to treat me like the men in my books treat their women.” Amanda leaned forward. “I know I’m not perfect, but I’m still a catch. Gary should feel lucky to have me, and he doesn’t.” Her mouth set in a stubborn line. “He just plain doesn’t.”

I get this kind of question all the time:

“How can I make my man appreciate me?”

“How can I make him treasure me like he used to?”

I think it’s great that women are asking that question, because it means they’re embracing their own value. They’re seeing their own worth. (I call this the A+ Mindset.)

But I also know what it’s like from a man’s perspective. Not all men know how to be romantic storybook heroes.

“Can I ask you something, Amanda? Does Gary have anything he really values? A friendship or family member, a vehicle, or even his phone?”

Amanda frowned as she thought. “He likes his car. He likes his phone. But they’re more tools to him than anything else. Like, I don’t think he’d care if he had to replace them.”

“How would you say Gary treats the people or things that are most important to him?”

“Casually, I guess? He prides himself on not much mattering to him. He’s easy-going.”

“So, if he treated you casually, it wouldn’t necessarily mean you’re not important to him. It would just mean he’s a casual kind of guy.”

“Yeah, I guess so. But I don’t want him to treat me like that. I want him to treasure me.”

“You know that saying, ‘A leopard can’t change its spots’? Is it possible you want Gary to change who he is for you?”

Amanda stared off into the distance. When she finally spoke, her voice was so low I had to strain to hear. “Yes. I do.”

Wanting your guy to be different is completely normal. I don’t think anyone gets through a relationship without wishing they could tweak some of their partner’s more annoying traits.

But love asks something else of us.

When I talk to women who are just starting their dating journey, I suggest they look for a “treasurer.”

A treasurer is a very particular kind of man. You can spot him by how he treats the people and things he values.

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The Secret Message of Loneliness

The Secret Message of LonelinessCertain times of year are lonelier than others.

Holidays. Valentine’s Day. Vacation time with no one to spend it with.

Along with the loneliness comes a hot burst of shame.

Shame that you’re even feeling this way. You shouldn’t be lonely. You’ve got your life and your friends. You’re independent! You like your alone time.

Then there’s the other shame…

Shame that no one has chosen you yet.

Shame that, out of all your friends, you’re the one who’s on her own.

That shame, coupled with loneliness, can make you go a bit crazy. You can end up acting in ways that just make it worse.

Society used to try to use shame women using derogatory terms like “slut” or “prude.” But the modern badge of shame goes by a different name:

“Desperate.”

Perhaps you’ve heard people say—or said yourself about someone—“Man, she’s desperate. You’ve got to feel sorry for her. No one’s going to date someone who’s acting that needy.”

No wonder loneliness feels so shameful.

Admitting you might be feeling the tiniest bit needy is unacceptable. Those feelings of loneliness must be squashed. No one can know you’re feeling lonely. You’ve got to hide it.

But therapists know there’s one thing worse than unwanted feelings:

Resisting those feelings.

The more you resist loneliness, the more it sinks down in your bones and refuses to budge.

But loneliness doesn’t have to be your enemy. It can be your friend.

It can be a source of power instead of shame.

Let me share with you a technique to take any unwanted emotion and use it to create your best life.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

When most of us feel lonely, we beat ourselves up over it. Something is wrong with us. We shouldn’t feel this way.

But emotions are messengers.

They’re telling us something important. Bringing attention to something we’re overlooking. Reminding us of unfinished business.

So negative emotions aren’t trying to ruin our lives. They are signals advising a course correction.

They’re not proof we’re doing something wrong. Rather, they’re trying to get our attention.

But what in the world are they trying to say?

Well, there’s a method for figuring it out.

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How to Fascinate a Man with Short Conversations

How to Fascinate a Man with Short ConversationsThere’s a way to fascinate a man’s mind. It’s very simple and it works.

I’m going to tell you that method and show you how to use it. But let’s first consider the point of conversation.  

(By the way, I have a special report on conversation topics that fascinate men every time. If that would be useful in your romantic life, you can access it here.)

A man spots you in a corridor and walks up to you, clearly intending to engage you in conversation. What are his possible motives?

Some people make the mistake of classifying the purpose of all communication into just two categories:

  1. To gather information.
  2. To convey information.

But as a sophisticated student of relationships, you already know this list is incomplete. Because it’s missing all those unspoken motivations people bring to conversations.

I’m talking about meta-goals.

His unspoken meta-goal during conversation with you could be

These are goals that may not have much to do with the actual words spoken during a conversation.

But let’s not stop here, because there’s one more reason people seek conversation, and it’s the most important one of all. Especially if you want to win his heart, mind, and devotion for life.

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The Sexiest Word You Can Say to Him

The Sexiest Word You Can Say to HimAva gave everything she had to her boyfriend Liam.

She was the perfect girlfriend. She cooked for him, planned special surprises for him, attended sports events with him, and made sure she supported him in everything.

Then Liam did the one thing she never expected:

He left her.

Not only did he leave her, but a week later she found out from friends that he’d been seeing someone else behind her back.

“They knew all along!” she told me. “They expected me to feel sorry for him, because it was such a dilemma. This cow or me. Here I was so nice, and he didn’t want to hurt me, but he felt this passion and chemistry that he’d never felt before.” Ava sneered. “Nice if he would’ve told me that before he broke my heart and stomped all over it.”

Ava believed that being the perfect girlfriend protected her against heartbreak. If only she did everything right, her boyfriend would never want to leave her.

Sadly, as you know, it doesn’t work that way.

In fact, being an imperfect girlfriend works for you, not against you.

That’s because he sees you’re not willing to set down everything and make him the center of your life. He sees that you’ve still got your own life and interests, which you’re not giving up for him.

The distance between you adds spice to your togetherness. You’re more than just an extension of him. You’re your own woman. And if one of you decides to leave the relationship, you won’t be left broken. You’ll still have a life of your own.

Ava was ready to learn how to make her next relationship a success. She didn’t want to do this again: give everything to a man, only to end up alone.

So I taught her the sexiest word any woman can say to a man:

“No.”

And its 1001 permutations:

Thank you for the invite, but I’ve got other plans.
I love being with you, but I’m not ready to go any further just yet.
I’m so glad you’re going to the game, but I’m not coming with you this time.
I’m hungry, too. What are you going to get for us?

Ava was horrified. Wouldn’t saying no make him lose interest?

Some men may lose interest, I told her. But those are the kind of men you don’t want. Men who are only interested in immediate gratification.

Men who make good partners are willing to go through some hardship on the path to love. They understand that a woman is their equal—not their personal assistant, chef, or mother. So there’s give and take on both sides.

Telling him no acts as a test of his character. Does he get upset when you won’t bend over backwards for him? Is he okay with the idea that he gets some of your time but not all of it? Will he make some effort for you, or do you have to do everything for him?

But there’s another, even more important reason to learn to say no:

It sets you up for a lasting relationship. Here’s why…

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Feeling Jealous? Try this.

Feeling Jealous? Try this.Josh was spending a lot of time at work.

Marian didn’t mind. Not at first.

She was proud of her fiancé. He told her the work he was putting in now would pay off in the form of a better life for both of them.

But then she attended Josh’s office Christmas party … and met Sarah.

Sarah was in her 20s, with long blond dreadlocks and a silver nose ring. She was vivacious, flirtatious, and seemed to have several men from the office wrapped around her little finger. Including Josh.

Marian came home that night furious. She wouldn’t talk to Josh for days.

He told her their relationship was entirely professional. That’s just how Sarah was. It’s not like they were ever alone together.

But Marian didn’t believe him.

“I trust Josh,” she told me, “but I don’t trust that woman. You should see what she wears! I mean, I’m all for casual office attire, but those tight t-shirts cross a line.”

“So let me ask you something,” I said. “What emotion are you feeling right now?”

“Anger. Definitely anger.”

“What would you say if I suggested you might be feeling jealous?”

Marian flinched. “Absolutely not. That’s annoying. Jealous of some … teenager?”

I nodded.

If there’s one emotion that’s got a majorly bad rap these days, it’s jealousy.

No one wants to admit to being jealous.

Prior to the 1970s, jealousy was considered a normal part of love. If you loved someone, of course you got jealous. You didn’t have to be embarrassed about it.

You can see some remnants of this way of thinking in dating advice that urges you to make him jealous if you want him to fight for you. Show him he’s got competition. If he’s not going to do the work, you’ve got other options.

It’s one thing to make him jealous but quite another to feel that unwanted emotion creeping up in yourself.

Jealousy is painful. Ever heard a friend say, “If he so much as looks at another girl, I’ll kill him”? It’s easier to direct anger at him than to admit you feel threatened.

But Esther Perel has a different perspective.

In her latest bestseller The State of Affairs, Perel suggests that the jealousy provoked by the thought of your man straying can rekindle a lackluster relationship.

That’s because it lights a fire under you. Nothing turns up the heat in a relationship more than the thought of someone else trespassing on your territory.

So here’s my advice to you. Don’t be afraid of jealousy. Use it to your advantage.

Not by sparking jealosy in him—I never recommend flirting with other men to make your guy jealous—but by acknowledging it and honoring it in yourself.

Here are 3 steps to turning those feelings of jealousy from pain into the pleasure of success.

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Will the Amount of Money He Earns Affect My Future Happiness?

Will the Amount of Money He Earns Affect My Future Happiness?How much attention do you pay to a potential partner’s income?

You know what you’re “supposed” to say. You’re supposed to say it doesn’t really matter. That money can’t buy love. That you’re way more invested in the person behind the bank account than his current balance.

But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?

When you talk to your bestie about the guy you’re currently seeing, you likely talk money. Maybe you say something about him “doing well,” or maybe you mention that he’s struggling, but a hard worker.

The point is, you notice. And I want to tell you that’s not just okay. It’s healthy and smart.

A recent study done by Purdue University backs this up. Researchers found that money can, indeed, buy happiness—to a point.

They speculate that a person has to have enough financial resources to feel secure (basic food and shelter needs met) in order to reach their highest potential for feelings of “emotional well-being.”

Beyond the point of having basic needs met, more money won’t make you happier. But below that point, a lack of funds can make it harder to be at peace.

It’s weird to think of it that way, but it makes sense. It’s pragmatic. Of course money matters. If you know you’re taken care of, you feel better. That’s true whether you’re single or sharing income as a couple.

One of the researchers was also quick to point out the need for balance. “Income is just one of the factors [that influence happiness], no more so than social interactions and finding a purpose in life.”

So when it comes to finding the right guy, should you pay attention to his income? Absolutely—as long as you pay attention to the right things.

Would you like to know how to do that? Below are four questions to help you know how important his bank account balance will be to your future happiness.

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The Fun Way to Build a Perfect Relationship

The Fun Way to Build a Perfect RelationshipIf you woke up tomorrow morning with the perfect dating relationship, what would be different?

Do you want to know the fastest path to that dream relationship?

Recently, I read an article by Stephanie Lee. Lee writes about all kinds of things, from travel to donuts to living a happy, fulfilling life. Oh, and weightlifting.

A while back, she decided she wanted to deadlift 300 pounds. Lee is not a muscle-bound girl. She has a fairly average build. When she set this goal, she was barely clearing 200 pounds.

And she wanted to lift 100 pounds more. Crazy, right?

But she’s already made it to 275, and she’s getting stronger every day. And she didn’t change her whole life to make it happen. Instead, she just stuck to a tried and true fitness manta…

“Focus on the process.”

Much of the time, we set our sights squarely on the goal. Focusing on the process means honing in primarily on the habits that lead to the goal instead of the goal, itself. It means doing the stuff that makes you successful, without obsessing about success.

Lee said it this way. “The goal is always there, like a good friend is, but I don’t let it consume me.”

That’s a tall order because it’s easy to focus on the goal and forget all about the process—whether you’re trying to lift 300 pounds or trying to find happiness in love.

But reaching for the relationship you want is a process.

Sure, it’s really nice to think about happily ever after. But too much focus on romantic bliss will actually get in your way. Instead, the key to lasting, fulfilling love is focusing on the journey that takes you there.

Are you ready for storybook happiness? I’ve got three tips for getting you there.

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3 Unusual (But Powerful) Tips for Crafting An Outstanding Online Dating Profile

3 Unusual (But Powerful) Tips for Crafting An Outstanding Online Dating ProfileMany of my clients met their perfect partner online.

The numbers keep growing. Half of all American singles have done an online dating profile, and 40% have dated someone they met online.

It’s hard to remember there was ever a stigma against online dating. (It’s even harder to remember those old personal ads in the newspaper!)

After so many years, you’d think the quality of the average online dating profile would have improved enormously.

After all, most people know what they’re doing now. For many, this isn’t their first profile. They know the game. They know how it’s played.

And yet…

If you go online and have a quick browse of singles in your area, you’ll notice something:

Most profiles don’t do justice to the interesting person who created it.

In fact, some are pretty bad.

Men who’ve taken their profile picture in the bathroom, from the worst possible angle, with the worst possible lighting.

Pictures where his face is covered up by a hat, dark glasses, or cut out of the frame.

Pictures of nice men with what can only be described as serial-killer expressions.

What’s going on?

Were these men born yesterday?

It’s easy to see what makes a dating profile stand out. The lighting is great, the guy is smiling, and his “About me” statement is articulate, thoughtful, and grammatically correct.

These men get swamped with winks and messages. Their profiles are so much better than everyone else’s that there’s no real competition.

Would you like your profile to stand out in the same way?

You can make it happen, and I’ll show you how.

Approach your profile with the same professional attitude you’d take towards your résumé.

Start crafting it well in advance of setting up your account. You get the most traffic when you’re a newbie, and you don’t want to waste even a day of that “new kid” attention. You want to make a memorable first impression from the moment you launch that profile out into the world.

So take a week or two to really think about how you want to portray yourself. Keep potential profile pics in a special folder, so you have plenty to choose from. Draft answers to the questions you’ll be asked.

That way, when it’s time to set up an account, your smartest ideas from the past two weeks of thinking will make your profile amazing.

Here are 3 more unusual but extremely powerful tips that will make your profile standing out from the crowd.

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How to Thrill the Man You Love Without Being a Doormat

How to Thrill the Man You Love Without Being a DoormatJamie came into my office in a huff. She pulled off her beanie and plunked down in the chair. Her tawny hair frizzed in all directions.

“Something happen?” I asked.

“No.” She waved my concern aside. “It’s just … well, something a friend of mine said.” She twisted the beanie in her hands.

I knew Jamie well enough to know that nervous gesture meant she was getting up the courage to talk about something painful.

“Okay, let me run this past you.” She frowned. “When I’m in a relationship, I really want to be good to whomever I’m with. I want to take care of him. I want to do nice things for him and make him happy.”

I nodded. Jamie had a kind, loving heart. It was only a matter of time before she met someone just as loving as she was.

“So I was talking to a friend of mine about how I did so much for my ex—and he never acknowledged any of it—and she told me…”

Her voice quivered. She took a deep breath.

“She told me that men don’t like doormats!”

She glared at me defiantly. “James, I’m not a doormat, am I?”

Now, let me pause my story for a moment here and ask you, what would YOU tell her?

It’s the one piece of dating advice that keeps cropping up again and again:

Don’t be a doormat. Don’t let men walk all over you.

The intention behind this piece of advice is good. It’s a reminder to value yourself.

But a lot of things get thrown into doormat territory that don’t belong there.

Like serving the man you love. Compromise and sacrifice. Loving someone as you would want to be loved.

Doing nice things for the man you love is NOT the same thing as being a doormat.

So let’s tease out the difference and see if there’s a way to be kind and loving without getting taken advantage of.

First of all, what is a doormat?

In a practical sense, it’s the mat you place in front of your door so that people can wipe their feet before going inside.

A doormat, then, is someone who allows other people to walk all over her. She wants people to “come inside” so badly that she doesn’t mind taking on all their yucky stuff.

For the doormat, it doesn’t matter how dirty a man’s shoes are. He can come in anyway, because she’ll clean his shoes for him. The dirtier his shoes, the more useful she feels.

Clearly, that’s not who you want to be!

You want to be the one standing at the door, looking at him eye-to-eye, deciding whether you’ll let him in.

If his shoes are filthy, you’re not going to clean them. You’re going to stand at that door until he cleans his own shoes.

That’s why I sometimes suggest that the opposite of being a doormat is being a hostess. Hostesses are awesome. So let’s talk about what that means.

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7 Things You Should Know Before the First Date

7 Things You Should Know Before the First DateHave you ever been on a blind date? They’re nerve-racking. Even if you trust the person setting you up, it feels like such a gamble.

What if the guy is a jerk? Or an idiot? Or just a really, really bad fit?

Blind date horror stories range from the uncomfortable to the truly bizarre. For example, there’s the girl who was unknowingly set up with her cousin. Awkward. But that’s not nearly as weird as the guy who kept his dead father’s “lucky dentures” in his pocket and proudly showed them off to his blind date.

That’s the end of that date. Turn and run.

You likely have dating horror stories of your own—blind and otherwise. That’s because all too often, we don’t know enough about the other person before the first date.

I’m not suggesting you request their college transcript, or do a full background check, or ask them to take a personality test. (Even though all three of those would be interesting.)

But it is wise to do a little homework first, even if you’re just meeting for coffee.

If it’s a blind date, you can get the scoop from your would-be matchmaker. If he’s someone you know from work or the gym, you can ask a few simple, non-threatening questions. If you met through an online dating site, check out his profile or just ask him to friend you on Facebook so you can see how he interacts with other people.

Just don’t go into that first date without some idea of who he is. Which opens a whole new can set of questions. What do you need to know before the first date?!

I’m so glad you asked.

There are 7 basic things you should know before you meet him for dinner, drinks or coffee. The goal is to know who he is enough to decide if you really want to invest the time to get to know him better.

This isn’t a definitive checklist. It’s more of a guide. In other words, as long as you know some of this stuff you’re far more likely to have a good first date.

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How to Spot a Guy’s Underlying Character

How to Spot a Guy’s Underlying CharacterDo you know how to spot a guy’s underlying character? If you don’t, it’s all too easy to end up with a guy who’s not worth your time.

Here’s what I mean.

Jenn and Lisa are best friends. Both recently started dating someone new. Like most friends, they compare notes.

The other day they were having coffee, and Jenn described how her guy was in a foul mood on their last date. He wasn’t rude toward her. But he was short with the waiter at the restaurant and the usher who took their tickets at the theater. He even snapped at the guy who parked the car.

Lisa had a similar experience with her new beau. A work meeting went poorly and it showed throughout their entire date. But at the end of the night, he addressed it. He explained why he was in a bad mood, took responsibility for letting it affect his behavior, and apologized.

“I’m sure your guy apologized to you, too,” Lisa said to Jenn.

Jenn shook her head. “Nope. That’s how he usually is. I mean, he’s always sweet to me, but he knows how to get his way. People learn not to cross him the hard way.”

Right about now, you’re probably thinking the same thing Lisa thought. Lisa’s guy was having a bad day, but that’s not the norm. Jenn’s guy just sounds like a jerk.

The difference is a state versus a trait.

States and traits look similar, but they’re totally different. States are temporary. Traits are—well, not necessary permanent, but certainly more well-established.

A state is a one-off situation, like being short because you’re having a bad day. A trait represents a pattern of behavior. Happily-ever-after hinges on learning to spot the difference between the two.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to tell states and traits apart —when you know what to look for. I can help you there.

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Why He Loves It When You’re Selfish

Why He Loves It When You’re SelfishRelationships thrive on selflessness.

They require sacrifice, compromise, and putting each other first.

We know this deep in our bones, and yet…

Have you ever noticed lopsided relationships, where it seems like one person is doing all the giving and the other person is doing all the taking? One’s a saint; the other is selfish.

It seems like the answer would be to have a stern talk with the person who’s being selfish.

He needs to think of others besides himself for once. He needs to see how much his partner is doing for him. He needs to start pitching in.

But I have an unusual suggestion:

Maybe the person who’s always selfless should start being selfish once in a while.

As she learns to be more selfish, their relationship ends up balancing itself out and becomes better than ever.

How in the world does that work?

Let me guess. You want to know because you’ve been the one doing all the giving. You know what it’s like to feel taken advantage of. You don’t want a repeat.

You might think the solution is to pick a less selfish man in the first place. If you could find a man who was giving like you, you’d be set. You’d both serve each other, and your relationship would be paradise.

That’s one option, certainly.

But another option—the better one—is to prevent your relationship from getting imbalanced in the first place.

Where Imbalance Starts

Relationships tend to get polarized.

He’s tidy, she’s messy. She’s the organizer, he forgets everything. He’s on time, she’s late. She’s the strict parent, he’s the permissive one.

This polarization happens even if couples start off fairly well balanced.

Let’s say that, in your relationship, you’re the tidy one and he’s the messy one.

Before getting together with him, though, you didn’t see yourself as a particular tidy person. You’re just tidy compared to him. He keeps things clean enough to suit him, but he’s no Mr. Martha Stewart.

Over time, that small difference grows. You clean the house; he messes it up again. He doesn’t see why he should do any cleaning when you do such a good job of it. He notices that it seems to give you pleasure to keep things tidy, so why should he deny you the fun?

You end up frustrated and feeling used. You don’t like feeling like his maid! He couldn’t survive without you making sure he has clean underwear. He doesn’t think of anyone but himself.

What’s the answer to this problem? Handing him a mop?

To answer that question, let me tell you about something called The Shadow Effect.

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How to Stop Your Past from Poisoning Your Future

How to Stop Your Past from Poisoning Your FutureYour exes.

What comes to mind when you think of them?

If you’re like most women, the first word that comes to mind is “heartbreak.”

Pain. Mistakes. Scars.

You have to carry that baggage for the rest of your life.

Common wisdom says you should forgive.

You can’t let go of the past until you’re completely at peace with what happened and hold no anger.

That’s a wonderful goal to aim for.

Forgiving your exes lightens your heart, helps you heal, and restores joy to your love life.

But it’s not easy. Not in the slightest.

Surely, if you could forgive, you’d have done it already, right? Because it feels so much better when you let stuff go.

You don’t want to carry that stuff around with you. You, more than anyone, know how much better life would be if you didn’t feel pain every time you thought about that part of your past.

That’s why I sometimes suggest a different goal:

Compassion with boundaries.

It accomplishes many of the same benefits as forgiveness, but it’s much more attainable. It helps you reap the lessons and discard the chaff, so that your future looks a whole lot brighter.

Let’s start by looking at boundaries.

How to Keep Bad Things from Happening Again

The reason so many of us hang onto unforgivingness is because we think it protects us. We don’t want to get hurt again.

So we remind ourselves periodically, “Look at what happened last time I trusted someone! Remember how that turned out?”

But what happened to you last time doesn’t predict what’s going to happen to you this time.

You’re smarter now. You’re stronger. You don’t need to hold onto those old memories in order to make wiser choices this time around.

Letting the past hang around just casts a pall over your future. There’s a better way to keep yourself safe.

And that’s by setting boundaries.

Boundaries are your limits. They define exactly how you’ll allow yourself to be treated. Some boundaries go without saying—no abuse, no violence, no cheating. But other boundaries are fuzzier. Let’s discuss a few of those.

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Why Chasing Commitment Backfires (And What Works BETTER)

Why Chasing Commitment Backfires (And What Works BETTER)Which would you rather have:

A passionate and intense relationship that lasted 4 years before imploding?

Or a 30-year marriage that was good enough sometimes and not great most of the time?

Hold onto that answer and see if it changes over the next few minutes.

Marriage is the Holy Grail of commitment.

When you love someone, you want it to be forever.

Which is why, the instant you fall in love, your thoughts immediately turn to how you can make it last.

Being with him now isn’t good enough. You need to know that you’ll be together next week, next year, and however long it takes to truly build a life together.

Without that knowledge, it’s difficult to relax into the relationship. You don’t know what will happen. You don’t want to waste time and energy in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere.

(If this resonates, you should check out Commitment with 4 Questions. It’s in my online library of special niche reports.)

We ALL want a secure future. We feel better when we have some control over what is going to happen. That’s why people put money into retirement plans or take jobs they don’t like for the financial security.

But when it comes to love, seeking security too soon can backfire.

You already know that pushing for commitment can kill a relationship before it has fully bloomed. But you may not know what to do instead.

Before I explain what you should be doing instead, let me tell you a story.

It’s a story that reveals something important about human desire. Something that could even help you get your man to commit.

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Give off the Right Vibe When Meeting Guys

Give off the Right Vibe When Meeting GuysHave you ever tried to make an impression by pretending to be something you’re not?

That’s not really a fair question, is it? I mean, everyone has done that at some point. Guy or girl, everyone one of us has tried to get the attention of someone we’re attracted to by presenting them with a very specific picture of who we are.

And most of us have made the mistake of taking it too far.

You know what happens then. Either you pull it off and he thinks you’re a huge sports fan, for example—and then you have to lean into that white lie for weeks or even months. Or you say something that gives you away, and he sees through the act.

Pretending to be someone you’re not is uncomfortable, exhausting, and possibly embarrassing.

The tough thing about this issue is that there’s a very fine line. It’s totally okay to pitch yourself a certain way to guys—as long as your pitch is fundamentally true. If it lines up with who you really are, then it’s not really a pitch at all.

For example, Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign works because it’s good marketing and it aligns with the company’s mission statement. If they ran ads saying every woman is beautiful just the way they are, but only used pictures of heavily airbrushed models, it would never work.

At the end of the day, Dove is just soap. But they’ve found an authentic way to describe who they are beyond their product . . . and their ads don’t just get the job done. They’re inspiring.

You can do the same thing when you meet a guy. You can present the best possible version of yourself and be 100% authentic at the same time.

Would you like to know how?

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First-Date Nerves? Channel Them for A Big Advantage

First-Date Nerves? Channel Them for A Big Advantage“Does he like me?”

Can you remember the first time you asked yourself that question?

You were just a girl the first time you cared about what a boy thought of you. The answer to that question mattered profoundly. If he liked you, your heart leapt with joy. If you weren’t sure, you schemed up ways to bring yourself to his attention.

Now you’re an adult. But that question hasn’t lost any of its power.

You still wonder whether a certain man likes you.

You wonder how you could bring yourself to his attention.

You wonder if he’ll ever think of you in that way.

Now researchers know that the way you think about questions like that can actually determine how successful you are at dating.

Putting yourself out there for rejection is stressful. It’s also the only way you’re ever going to meet someone.

The more comfortable you get with putting yourself out there, the more you do it. And the more you do it, the more men you meet, increasing your chances of finding someone special.

You’re never going to eliminate the stress of wondering whether a man likes you or not.

But what you CAN do is learn a different way to deal with that stress, turning it from something draining into something energizing.

We have two ways to deal with stress:

The threat response or the challenge response.

The threat response is what you might know as “fight or flight.” Your heart beats faster. Your blood pressure increases. You feel anxious. Your mind freezes. You start seeing danger everywhere.

Imagine walking on stage in front of a thousand people. They’ve all paid to come see you speak. There’s a huge video camera trained on you. You’ve got to hold everyone’s attention for the next hour, with no notes.

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A Decision Flowchart: Three Options When Your Man Is Pulling Away

A Decision Flowchart: Three Options When Your Man Is Pulling AwayShould you pursue a man when he seems to be pulling away?

Sometimes it’s hard to know.

So I’ve created a decision flowchart to help you decide.

When you really like a guy, giving up just feels wrong. Especially if both of you have invested a lot in the relationship. Especially if you both felt a spark of something special. Something uncommon. Something valuable that will be hard to ever find again with someone new.

And yet, there are times when it’s pointless to keep banging your head against a wall. Especially when the person sitting on the other side of that wall stops returning your phone calls!

This is a dilemma with important implications for your life. Much of your future will depend on what you do next. So it makes sense to take a step back and consider all your options.

The main options I want you to consider are these:

  1. The reason he’s pulling away… Is it known or unknown?
  2. Control. Do you have any influence over the factors causing him to pull away?
  3. Timeline. Are we dealing with temporary stuff or permanent features of the relationship?

Each of these factors have multiple spin-off considerations. So it gets complex. And all that complexity can leave you feeling stuck because of uncertainty. But with a step-by-step decision matrix, you can reach some decisions about the best step to take next.

Click the “continue reading” button to see a flowchart that can help you choose what to do next.

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The Four Tendencies in Relationships

Have you ever dated someone who never got off the couch?The Four Tendencies in Relationships

You knew he had amazing potential, but he never did anything with it. Trying to motivate him was a waste of time.

Or maybe you’ve dated the opposite:

Someone whose time was scheduled down to the minute.

He never did anything spontaneously; it all had to be planned in advance. He was amazingly productive but an imperfect boyfriend. He had too many other priorities.

Gretchin Rubin noticed these patterns when she was writing her 2015 bestseller, Better Than Before. She was examining why we find it so hard to establish desired habits and break bad ones.

She found that some people are really disciplined. They’re good at living up to expectations. It’s a point of honor to them. You don’t let anyone down.

These people were also really good at structuring their own time. They set their own goals and worked hard to meet them.

But then there were people who could not follow the rules. They thought discipline and habits were for sheep. They wanted to do what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it.

Rubin realized that how a person responds to expectations puts them into one of four categories: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel.

Understand your tendency, and you understand an important component of what makes you tick.

Understand his tendency, and your relationship gets a whole lot easier.

One of the challenges of relationships is working with each other’s quirks and preferences. You have to be able to plan things and organize your time together without driving each other crazy.

If you have different tendencies—a different relationship to discipline, rules, habits and expectations—then you can find yourself caught up in endless arguments.

When Beth was growing up, rules kept her family life flowing smoothly. Whenever there was a problem that kept cropping up, whether it was forgetting coats at school or leaving shoes by the door where someone could trip, her mother laid down a new rule.

So when she fell in love with Jeremy and they decided to move in together, she wanted to set down some ground rules. Having rules would help them live together more harmoniously … or so she thought.

But Jeremy was outraged. He accused her of trying to control him. In fact, every time she tried to establish a rule, he went out of his way to break it.

Beth was in tears. She wondered if they were completely wrong for each other.

I didn’t think so. They just needed to understand each other’s tendencies.

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How to Turn a Guy Down Without Feeling Guilty

How to Turn a Guy Down Without Feeling GuiltyWhich is worse? Going out on a lame date . . . or saying no to a guy you’re not into?

Most of my readers are mature, intelligent and kind. I’m sure you don’t take pleasure in making guys feel horrible just for asking you out. What do you say when you don’t want to say yes?

If you’re like a lot of women, you say no . . . with an apology. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really help the situation. A recent study found that trying to soften a rejection by saying you’re sorry only makes the other person feel worse.

And that’s the thing about saying no that sucks. It’s hard to say no without sounding heartless.

But as hard as it can be to say no tactfully, boundaries are good.

They’re good for you. You shouldn’t have to suffer through dates you don’t want to be on. AND, boundaries are for the guys you turn down. As trite as it may sound, it really is better if you don’t lead him on.

So here’s the dilemma. If you’re in dating mode, you’re going to end up rejecting guys. There’s no way to avoid that . . . unless you say yes to everyone. And trust me, THAT’S a bad idea.

Thankfully, there are kind, effective ways to let a guy down. Saying no doesn’t have to be cruel.

If you want to learn how to gracefully decline a date, keep reading. I have three ideas that will make the process easier for you and those unfortunate guys who just don’t spark your interest.

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The Best Dating Tips Are Incredibly Simple

The Best Dating Tips Are Incredibly SimpleHave you ever fallen for bad dating advice?

There are two pieces of dating advice I come across all the time. You’ve almost certainly heard both of them. You’ve probably even tried to act on them. And the results weren’t what you were looking for.

The very worst dating advice is bad precisely because it seems to make sense. But it doesn’t produce the results you’re looking for.

By way of example, here are two common pieces of dating advice you’re better off avoiding.

What not to do.

Bad Dating Tip #1: “Just be yourself.”

How many times have you heard people tell you to just be yourself? It sounds like really good advice, especially if you’re trying to make a heart-to-heart connection.

At its core, the idea of being yourself is solid. But it makes for bad dating advice because you’re most yourself when you’re not even thinking about “being yourself.”

Bad Dating Tip #2: “Play hard to get.”

A guy worth pursuing has lots of options when it comes to pairing up with a dating partner. And as a rule of thumb, people follow the path of least resistance.

If a guy is a good match for you, then time together will strengthen the romantic feelings he has for you. If his interest was only based on the excitement of “the chase,” then what’s going to sustain the relationship once you’re a committed couple?

Are you ready to know the three things you should do instead?

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7 Ways to Make Online Dating as Awesome as it Should Be

7 Ways to Make Online Dating as Awesome as it Should BeOnline dating is super easy. It’s not even hard to find good guys. But finding a good guy who’s right for YOU—now, that can be a challenge.

It’s kind of like shopping online. Have you ever bought something online only to send it right back?

Maybe it was a summer dress. Or a cute top. Or, if you’re really daring, a pair of skinny jeans. Whatever the specifics, it looked amazing on the website. But when it arrived and you slipped it on . . . ugh.

The picture was misleading. The quality was poor. The color was off. Or, it just didn’t work when you saw it in person.

If you’re something of a fashionista, this can be a real problem. The internet is great for finding killer deals. But who cares if you have to return most of the stuff?

Does this remind anyone of internet dating?

Never before in human history has it been easier to meet potential partners. There are tons of online dating services. But holy cow, can they be a pain. How many guys look great online, only to leave you disappointed in person?

I’ve talked to plenty of women who just don’t do internet dating anymore. They’ve had too many bad experiences. I get that.

But at the same time, online dating can be great. It gives you a chance to spell out exactly what you’re looking for and learn a little something about possible matches just by browsing profiles. In theory, it’s a great idea.

There’s got to be a way to make internet dating as awesome as it could be.

There is.

The following 7 tips are your guide to getting the most out of online dating services. Stick to these suggestions, and you’ll be way more likely to find the kind of love you’re looking for.

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Why Convincing Your Ex Never Works… (and what does)

When you’ve shared a special connection with someone, it’s hard to let it go.

Especially when you know there’s still a lot of potential if he would just open his heart again.

You could build a beautiful life together.

If that’s something you want, then it’s only natural you would try to convince him that he should give the relationship another shot. After all, convincing him feels like the right thing to do.

Why would you not try to reason with him? Why wouldn’t you try to show him he’s making a mistake by pulling away?

Yet this is one of those times in life when our instincts lead us awry. Because convincing your ex never works. Fortunately, I know something that does.

Triggering feelings.

Here’s the thing, triggering feelings will always trump logical argument.

Why? Because emotions run the show. We humans are not as rational as we’d like to believe. That’s true of all forms of decision-making, but especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

(By the way, If you’d like laser-targeted advice about getting your ex to talk to you again, check out my Relationship Rewrite Method here).

Emotion. It’s your best shot at winning him back.

I care about all my clients. But I have to be honest, sometimes a client’s story tugs at my heart and it gets personal for me. That was the case with Leah, a mother of five, the oldest of whom was born when she and the father were both seventeen, just high school sweethearts.

I’ll admit there was a judgmental part of me that thought Leah and Joel had been incredibly irresponsible to start having children while they were still children themselves. But I soon forgot all about that as I learned of the beautiful family they had created together. These two clearly belonged together.  

And it was difficult to watch this beautiful family be torn apart by a short series of missteps and what I’ll call “almost-infidelity.” First by one, and then (in reaction) by the other.

Leah sought out my professional services first. Joel had moved out three months earlier. I could tell we had our work cut out for us.

Joel joined us a few sessions later. He was complacent with me and defiant with Leah. He had his mind made up. The hurt was just too great. But he claimed it was because Leah was “crazy.”

Leah, on the other hand, was not ready to let go of what they shared. She was going to fight for their love.

She had fire in her eyes every time she spoke directly to Joel in our sessions, demanding that he stop living the life of a bachelor, pursuing other women while her life began to look more and more like that of a single mother, just struggling to get by.

And this is where things get complicated for me. It was hard for me to maintain professional objectivity. You see, I wanted to convince Joel as well. I wanted to jump in with Leah and fight for this little family to survive.

Fortunately, I knew better.

So I privately began to teach Leah the techniques I’m going to share with you today. Let me show you the difference between convincing your ex versus triggering the right kind of feelings.

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Beat Negativity for a Positively Amazing Romance

Beat Negativity for a Positively Amazing RomanceYou know what really sucks about having a bad day? Everything.

I have a friend—let’s call her Sarah—who was having a rotten day recently. She slept late, her boss was on her butt the second she walked through the door, clients were upset, and halfway through the afternoon, her evening plans got canceled.

Sarah’s not one to give up easily. She tried to bounce back. She opened a new browser window, did a quick search for bad day inspiration and landed on a page full of gems like these:

And to top things off . . .

That last one broke her effort to be positive. She was ready to scream at her monitor. Only as bad as you let it be? Really?!

All that positivity felt like nonsense—which is the essence of a bad day. It makes everything feel tainted.

Every one of those quotes is true, but that’s not much comfort on a bad day. Almost nothing is. That’s exactly why you need to be careful how you interact with your partner on bad days.

Negativity that has nothing to do with your relationship can all-too-easily mess with romance.

When you’re in a negative frame of mind, you’ll be drawn to negative perceptions and negative conclusions. That’s true down to the neurological level.

A team of researchers recently confirmed this. When you’re depressed, even your brain shifts toward cynicism. You’ll be more likely to use negative words and make negative choices.

Time with your man at the end of a crappy day can make things feel better. But only if you keep that negativity from creeping its way into your relationship.

Thankfully, there’s a way to do that . . . without invalidating how you feel. The following three ideas will help you be authentic—even at the end of a horrible day—without wrecking date night.

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Improve Your Self-Image to Boost Your Love Life

Improve Your Self-Image to Boost Your Love LifeI found a cool method to supercharge your dating life and your self-image at the same time.

Allow me to briefly explain what I’ve discovered.

Your self-image and romantic life are closely linked.

Consider the dating app called Tinder. Well, actually, let’s consider a study[1] done about Tinder.

Researchers set out to understand the differences in how men and women take selfies for this dating app. Here’s what they discovered. The majority of men look down at the camera when taking selfies. Most women look up.

The researchers concluded this could be attributed to several different factors. Most men are taller than most women, so it could just be pragmatic. But they also floated the theory that camera position was indicative of something deeper.

What if it has to do with . . . how we see ourselves? For example, do men look down because they feel confident as they approach dating? Are women implying something about their self-worth by looking up at men?

There wasn’t anything conclusive about this research. But it got me thinking. How you see yourself plays a huge role in how other people see you. Especially in the context of a romantic relationship.

People can read your self-image like an instruction manual. It tells them a lot about how you expect to be treated.

Without even realizing you’re doing it, you’re showing him how to treat you, how much to respect you, what the balance of power in the relationship should be, and even how much he should value you.

Of course, taking the time to cultivate your self-image is good for you even if you’re single. You’ll be happier with a strong self-image. Plus, the better your self-image is, the better your dating experiences will be.

So, what does it take to boost your self-image? There are three questions that can lead you to a useful answer.

None of these questions are complex, but they will push you to do some honest self-exploration.

Are you up for it?

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Why You Should Embrace the Chaos of Dating

Why You Should Embrace the Chaos of DatingYou have dating horror stories. I know you do because every woman does. (Every guy has them, too.)

I recently came across a list of dating horror stories.[1] They’re both entertaining and awkward. Has anything like this happened to you?

Granted, those are extreme cases. Even if you spend an evening with someone like hearse guy, that’s probably not your normal dating experience.

And yet, every one of those stories is totally believable. That’s because dating is strange and goofy and chaotic. Sometimes that makes it fun, and sometimes that makes it agonizing.

But there’s one thing it’s not. Predictable. Even computers can’t crack the dating code, as researchers from the University of Utah recently discovered.[2]

A lot of dating services claim they have fancy algorithms that can identify your perfect match. It turns out that’s just not true. Matchmaking, these researchers discovered, isn’t something you can control or forecast.

And you can be honest about how that makes you feel.

It’s a little scary. You can play all your cards right, be smart about how, where and when you find dates, and you still might end up at dinner with some yahoo scheming to sling guac at passersby.

You can’t eliminate the chaos. So, there’s really only one thing to do. Lean into it. Embrace the mysterious nature of dating and make it fun.

Pulling that off is easier than it sounds. It doesn’t require any kind of mental contortionism. Just stick to a couple of powerful principles.

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6 Dating Red Flags (And How to Fix Them)

6 Dating Red Flags (And How to Fix Them)Do you remember that time you were dating a guy and everything was just perfect?

Of course you don’t. That kind of relationship doesn’t exist. Relationships involve people, and none of us are perfect!

And yet, I talk to a lot of women who think romantic perfection is out there. They’re on the prowl for it, serious about finding a guy who lines up completely with their dream, their wish list.

That creates a problem.

As human beings, we tend to see what we hope to see. Think about the classic example of a good girl dating a world-class jerk.

He doesn’t listen to her. When he’s around her, he talks down to her and tells her what to do. If she doesn’t appease him, he pitches a fit. He won’t let her maintain connection with her friends, and even when she’s happy there’s a trace of sadness.

But she defends him. She says things like, “He’s really sweet when it’s just us. Really. I see this whole other side of him.”

Right . . .

That’s an extreme example, but it illustrates a mistake a lot of us make. In the pursuit of perfection, we overlook glaring red flags. Instead of dealing with the flaws in our relationships, we make excuses.

I encourage you to go in a different direction. Look for the shortcomings in your dating relationship so you can address them and reach higher levels of intimacy.

To get you started, here are 6 common red flags and what you can do to move your relationship past them.

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What You Can Learn from His Ex

What You Can Learn from His ExLet’s talk about the woman your man used to be with. His ex.

Even though they’re not together anymore, she feels like competition.

Like (no matter what he says) he might still have some residual feelings of attraction towards her.

It doesn’t help that a 2012 study found that just under half of young adults had gotten back together with an ex … and just over half reported sleeping with an ex even after they broke up.[1]

So there’s some truth to the idea that exes can be competition. But that doesn’t make his ex the enemy.

Rather, she’s someone who can help you.

She’s already given you an amazing gift, one you may have missed:

She’s shown you your guy’s weak spots.

The way their relationship ended gives you valuable insights into how you can lay an even stronger foundation this time around, ensuring that no matter what happens, you’ll have a good sense of what works with him and what doesn’t.

So how can you find the gift she left you, especially when just thinking about her feels uncomfortable?

Well, it begins with just a simple realization. That history tends to repeat itself.

Part of the magic of starting a relationship is a feeling as if no one has ever brought out the real you before.

You quickly begin to feel as if you know him better than anyone else alive—certainly better than his ex—and the feeling is mutual.

But what you’re seeing is only one side of each other.

He’s seeing your best self, and you’re seeing his. When the newness wears off, you’ll relax into each other’s company. You’ll feel free to treat each other a little more casually, maybe even a little less respectfully. That’s when old patterns rear their heads.

You can’t see those patterns when your relationship is new, but you can catch glimpses of them in how he talks about his past.

No one likes talking about past relationships. Why rehash the past? Surely it’s irrelevant to the present. Besides, you don’t want to hear about her. You don’t even want to think about him with another woman.

But avoiding that conversation prevents you from gaining valuable information about how he copes when relationships become difficult.

Here are 5 points to pay attention to when he talks about what happened with his ex.

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The Romantic Advantage of Seeing the World in Shades of Gray

The Romantic Advantage of Seeing the World in Shades of GrayWant to know whether this guy has what it takes to last in the long run?

Ask him about his parents. Or his exes. Or his boss. People who are emotionally charged for him.

Then sit back and listen.

If he paints a world in which people are either good or bad, saints or sinners, then watch out.

He may not have what psychologists call “healthy object relations,” which are crucial for lasting love.

In a moment, I’ll tell you why seeing in black and white can sabotage lasting love, but first, here’s a quick and very basic run-down on the theory.

As children, we see our parents as good when they’re doing something we like and bad when they’re doing something we don’t like.

It’s not until we grow up a bit that we realize our parents are neither good nor bad, but rather complex people with some traits we like and some we dislike.

That’s a mature point of view.

We can see that, even though we may dislike someone heartily, that person still has some good traits.

We can see that, even though we idolize someone, that person still has flaws.

But not everyone has this seemingly obvious insight.

Some people continue to see others in black or white … and that doesn’t bode well for romance.

Take this example.

Have you ever met a man who put you on a pedestal from the moment he met you?

He made you feel amazing. You were the center of his attention. His attachment to you was so intense you felt a bit blown over. You wondered whether he was seeing the real you or wearing some serious rose-colored glasses.

But it was flattering. So you went along with it.

Then, a few weeks into the relationship, or a few months, or even a few years, something shifted.

You disappointed him in some small way.

Maybe you said no when he was expecting you to say yes. Maybe you asked him to change something, and he took it as criticism. Or maybe you did nothing at all. He just woke up one morning and looked at you differently.

From that moment on, you were a disappointment to him. You could never measure up to the woman he thought you should be.

You could try harder, of course. But why would you? In his eyes, you were either the ideal woman or a flawed human being. Hopefully, you left the relationship and didn’t look back.

That’s the consequences of all-or-nothing thinking. A man who can’t appreciate a complex, interesting woman who’s got a bit of saint AND sinner in her isn’t one who’ll stay the course.

Now, let’s turn the tables. How can this theory help you spot a winner?

Glad you asked.

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3 Ways to Invite Love to Chase You

3 Ways to Invite Love to Chase YouThere are two kinds of singles:

Those who wait for Prince Charming to land in their laps…

And those who jump on a white stallion and gallop off to find him.

Because you’re reading this right now, you might very well fit into that second category!

We’re raised to believe that you can’t get what you want until you go after it. You should set a goal and take concrete action steps in the direction of your dreams.

But love is a funny thing. You can’t “achieve love” in the same way as you can achieve other goals.

Love is slippery. We think we’ll find it one place, then it’s not there. It often pops up in the most unlikely of places at the most inconvenient times.

No wonder love is so frustrating. We’re used to being in control of every aspect of our lives. It feels like we should be able to make love happen by sheer willpower. But love continues to elude us, like a wild animal that doesn’t want to be trapped.

Perhaps a better approach is not to treat love like a goal to be achieved…

But rather as a mystery to respect and appreciate.

Accept that love is a much bigger force than you could ever understand or hope to control, and you may just find it appears when you least expect it.

The 21st century is not an age of mysteries. We believe in the power of science to explain most things. We trust in reason and causality.

But romance often seems unpredictable, as evidenced by stories like these:

Once upon a time, a woman went to a conference and saw a man staring at her across a room. He wouldn’t have even been there had his friends not dragged him out. They met, talked until dawn, and fell in love. Today they’re happily married with two children.

Once upon a time, a woman joined a friend at a baseball game. Baseball wasn’t even her thing. She didn’t know why she’d agreed to go that night, but she’s so glad she did. She met her future husband at the game. They’ve been married 12 years and counting.

So many love stories involve unlikely events such as these.

Wild, crazy synchronicities. Meeting each other against all odds.

That’s the essence of romance. Love stories captivate us most when they’re unexpected.

So why shouldn’t love come to you in the same way?

Why shouldn’t love land in your lap when you least expect it?

Maybe love isn’t something you have to hunt down. Maybe there’s a mysterious force—call it Cupid or St. Valentine or even destiny if you like—working on your behalf, summonsing the perfect conditions for you to meet the one who’s also been waiting for you.

Like this idea? Want to know more?

Then try these 3 tips for letting love take the driver’s seat.

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The Unsexy Art of Relationship Maintenance

The Unsexy Art of Relationship MaintenanceYou’ve read those relationship articles, right? The ones featured in magazines in checkout lines? They’re always about passion or keeping the spark alive or making your relationship magical.

Would you like to know the truth about those articles?

Sometimes they have good advice. Really.

Yes, you may have to sift through some cheesy examples, and sometimes the headlines are just ridiculous, but more often than you’d think the content isn’t bad.

But there is a problem with those articles. They often paint an incomplete picture.

They’ll tell you about the fun side of building your relationship. Things like how to buy your guy little gifts or what you can do to feel sexy around him. Basically, the easy advice.

But the hard stuff? Forget about it. You won’t find that kind of advice in those articles very often at all.

People don’t buy magazines in the checkout line because they want to be challenged to grow.

But you’re reading this because you do want growth—for yourself and for your relationship. I want to honor that, so I’ll tell you the truth you won’t get from those magazine articles.

Ready?

Real relationship maintenance isn’t sexy. It’s work.

Keeping your romance in a good place takes persistence. And while that may not be sexy, persistent maintenance is what enables intimacy.

That’s why it matters.

Are you ready to give your relationship a maintenance check-up? I can show you how. This is the unsexy side of romance—but it’s so worth it.

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When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Say Yes to a Second Date

When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Say Yes to a Second DatePicture this. You’re out with a friend. She’s shoe shopping, and you’ve agreed to lend your fashion advice.

You walk into a store with no intention of buying anything for yourself, but the moment you enter it washes over you. The scent of leather. Suddenly, you’re thinking a new pair of pumps might not be a bad idea.

The smell alone can suck you right in. And businesses know it.

In fact, there are marketing firms that specialize specifically in scents that create sales![1] It’s called “sensory marketing.”

But the effect goes further than your nose. For example, wine stores that play classical music sell more champagne.[2] That’s because all your senses have the potential to produce a powerful emotional response.

As one article on sensory marketing put it, “we feel faster than we think.”[3]

The same thing can happen in your love life. When you go out for the first time with a man, the entire date is a collision of sensory input.

There’s the cologne he’s wearing. The visual impact of his clothes. The taste of the food you share over dinner, the touch of his skin when he takes your hand, even the sounds of others talking and laughing at the restaurant.

And because we feel faster than we think, it can be tough to tell if he’s really a good match for you.

You need a way to navigate through all that unintended “sensory marketing.” After all, you don’t want to go on multiple dates with the wrong guy just because everything felt right on the first.

Here’s how you bypass the hype and decide if a second date is a good idea.

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The Difference between Commitment and Attachment

The Difference between Commitment and AttachmentBelle was committed.

She was going to stick with this relationship no matter what.

She was never going to give up. She wasn’t that sort of person. She despised people who got married then ended up divorcing six months later.

“No one knows how to commit anymore!” she told me. “They give up at the first sign of trouble.”

But I had a feeling something more was going on.

Pushing Belle a bit further, I found out that the man to whom she was so committed wasn’t exactly committed back. He didn’t treat her respectfully. He put himself first. He never talked about their future together.

Was it really commitment Belle was experiencing…

Or something else entirely?

Most of us consider commitment a very good thing. Committed people are the ones you want on your team. It’s no compliment to call someone a “commitment-phobe.”

But what if you’re committed to something that isn’t good for you?

Maybe you’re committed to a soul-destroying job or a toxic relationship. Maybe you’re committed to being right or seeing the world with blinders on. Is it still such a good thing?

That’s where the difference between commitment and attachment comes in.

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen explains that distinction like this:

“Attachment is a reflex, an automatic response which often may not reflect our deepest good. Commitment is a conscious choice, to align ourselves with our most genuine values and our sense of purpose.”[1]

So, when you make a commitment, you’re doing it for you. You’re making this choice because it aligns with your values. There’s a feeling of peace about it. You know in your heart it’s the right thing to do, regardless of how things turn out.

If you’re attached, on the other hand, you can’t let go. You hold on tight, because you’re desperate to get what you want. Attachment creates anxiety. It’s as if you’ve created a cage for yourself and walked right in.

It’s very easy to get attached and mistake that feeling for commitment.

That’s what was happening for Belle. She believed she was committed to her relationship, but in fact she was attached to an illusion. She wouldn’t give up until her boyfriend turned into the Prince Charming she knew he could be.

When you’re that attached to something, not even reality can deter you.

No one could tell Belle that the man she was with would never be the husband she dreamed of. The thought of losing this chance at happiness was more important to her than being true to her values.

But Belle’s values mattered. If she searched her heart, she could see that what she was actually committed to was a relationship where both parties treated each other with respect, put each other first, and built a future together.

Could she let go of her attachment and fear of loss if it meant serving that higher commitment?

Here are 3 questions you can use to test whether you’re sticking with your relationship for the right reasons.

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How to Avoid the Easiest Relationship Mistake

How to Avoid the Easiest Relationship MistakeSome breakups are worse than others.

When romance goes south over something big, at least it makes sense. But when things tank without obvious explanation, the lack of resolution is particularly upsetting.

There’s one really common relationship mistake that almost everyone has made at some point. According to Divorce Magazine (I swear I’m not making that up), this common mistake is one of the leading causes of divorce.[1] And yet, it’s so subtle, you might not even think of it as a mistake.

Would you like to know what it is and how to avoid it?

Imagine this scenario. Your guy meets you for dinner with a spring in his step. He’s in a good mood. You ask what’s up and he tells you about something good that happened in his day.

He’s clearly excited about it, but the good news doesn’t really interest you. Maybe his favorite team won, but you don’t like sports. Or he had a really good workout, but you don’t see why that something to get pumped up about.

How do you respond? The answer to that question has predictive powers.

Practically everyone knows it’s important to support your partner when things are rough. If he gets laid off, you know he’s going to need some encouragement. The common mistake most of us make happens at the opposite end of the spectrum.

It’s important to support your partner when things are good.

That can be hard to remember because people in good moods don’t seem to need support. We think of support as something we give when people are down. But if he can’t share his joy with you, that’s a huge hit to your intimacy.

If you don’t want to fall prey to this problem, there’s an easy solution.

The following solution sounds simple. And it is. In fact, it’s a foundational concept for building intimacy.

It has three parts:

  1. Recognize success.
  2. Acknowledge success.
  3. And celebrate success.

Now let me break it down for you so you can use this in your own life.

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The Most Important Thing for Real Romance

The Most Important Thing for Real RomanceHas a breakup ever caught you totally off guard? Sometimes we see them coming, and sometimes we just don’t.

One woman I spoke to recently said, “I was hoping things would work out, but the writing was on the wall. When it ended, I don’t think either of us was surprised.”

Within a couple of days, a different woman told me, “I just wish I’d been prepared. I really thought things were fine. When he said he didn’t want to be with me anymore, I was floored.”

Both of these women are smart and mature. One knew where her relationship was, and one didn’t.

Said another way, one of them knew how to accurately assess the state of her own relationship. That’s a vital skill—and fortunately, one you can learn.

And it’s not just vital when it comes to the possibility of breaking up. It’s vital for every stage of a romance.

In fact, learning how to take stock of your relationship might be the most important thing you can do to make your dating life more successful. You’ll know when things are good and why. You’ll also know when things aren’t so great.

Either way, you can take steps to make sure your needs are met and you’re pursuing what makes you happy.

So how do you check-in on your own romance? There are a lot of ways to gauge relationship health, but you only need three questions to get to the heart of the matter quickly.

The first question has to do with a gut-level feeling…

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3 Myths About Single Life That Keep You From Being Happy

3 Myths About Single Life That Keep You From Being HappyEveryone knows it’s hard being single.

It’s lonely, you keep putting yourself up for rejection, and it often feels as though all the good men are already taken.

But what if you looked at single life from a different angle?

That’s where two of the world’s most well-known spiritual leaders come in.

In 2016, The Book of Joy was a runaway bestseller, documenting a week of conversations between the Dalai Lama and his friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Now, dating wasn’t on the list of topics covered. The discussion centered on how we can be happy in a life filled with suffering.

Which isn’t all that far from how to find happiness even when the perfect love seems like a distant dream.

Despite their different backgrounds, these two great men kept coming back to the same theme:

Happiness lies in human connection.

That’s not just a spiritual truth. It’s a scientific one as well.

A Harvard study found that “our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.”[1]

Even more so than intelligence, money, or good genes, social ties contribute to a longer life. In fact, the study participants who were happiest with their relationships at the age of 50 were most likely to reach 80 in good health.

But what if you’re single?

Are you doomed to unhappiness?

That’s where the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama have some unconventional wisdom to share.

Let’s see how their advice shatters some of the myths about being single.

Myth #1. Being single is a lonely experience.

When you’re at a party and you’re the only one who’s single while everyone else is coupled up, you do feel alone. You feel left out. You feel the painful absence of someone at your side.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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How to Embrace The Problems in Your Relationship

You’ve felt it, haven’t you? The nagging suspicion that you’ll never be completely satisfied with your love life?

You’re right. You won’t ever find everything you’re looking for . . . if you’re lucky.

Buckle up and I’ll explain why that’s a good thing.

Imagine a set of twin sisters. We’ll call them Natalie and Nicole – two women who are as close to identical as possible.

Both are attractive and in decent shape, but not as toned as they could be. Both have good jobs, but not their dream jobs. Both are dating okay guys.

But there’s one key difference between them.

Natalie isn’t satisfied with her current fitness level, job or relationship. Nicole feels “happy enough” in all three areas. What do you think will happen next?

That’s easy, right? Nat will workout, getting in better shape. She’ll make moves in her career to get a better job, something she finds more fulfilling. And she’ll either improve her current relationship or ditch this guy and find a better fit.

Nicole will stay right where she is.

A recent Harvard study confirms this.[1] As the lead researcher explained in an interview, “our findings indicate that [the] belief in a favorable future may diminish the likelihood that people will take action to ensure [it] becomes reality.”[2]

Said another way, dissatisfaction prompts us to strive for more.

When we believe everything’s okay, we stop trying. What’s the point? We only invest effort in improvement when we feel like there’s a need.

You might be wondering why that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because research has also shown that humans are happiest when they’re making progress. No matter how small or insignificant the progress. It helps us to feel happy.

Humans need to be working on things in order to feel happy.

How can you use that information in your relationship? By embracing a bit of dissatisfaction.

I suggest embracing a mild form of dissatisfaction – just enough to give you motivation – in four key areas.

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7 Things You Can Do to Feel Emotionally Stronger

7 Things You Can Do to Feel Emotionally StrongerIf you don’t meet your own emotional needs early on in a relationship, you’ll feel it later. Plus, it has the potential to really mess with your connection with your guy.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, think about the last time you were craving something.

I’m not talking about wanting something. I’m talking about CRAVING something. Feeling a level of desire that verges on obsession.

For example, a lot of people crave sweets. And the results of a recent study suggest that sweetness in the mouth triggers a “neurological reward” as powerful as cocaine.”[1]

No wonder we crave sugar!

How do you defeat a craving for sweets? One way is to eat a protein-rich breakfast. New research shows that a solid breakfast with plenty of protein “may lower food cravings later in the day.”[2]

Weird as it may sound, meeting a legitimate need early on can eliminate an empty feeling later.

The very same process plays out in relationships, too.

A great example is the classic case of the woman who lacks confidence. She starts dating someone. He dotes on her, but it’s never enough. She’s needy for affirmation, no matter how much he gives. She feels insecure in the relationship if he’s not doting on her all the time.

Why? Because she STILL lacks confidence. He’ll never satisfy her “relationship craving” for validation. In the end, it just messes with the foundation of the relationship.

But if you can cover certain emotional bases before things get serious, you can stop unproductive relationship cravings before they start. Instead of wanting something he can’t give, you’ll be able to ENJOY the relationship.

That’s so much better than feeling like you’re not getting what you need. Which begs the question, what’s the relationship equivalent of a good breakfast?

Psychologists call it “self-care.” I have seven super-easy suggestions[3] for injecting some self-care into your daily routine.

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What To Do When Your Guy Lets You Down

What to Do When Your Guy Lets You DownAlaya remembered when she first started dating her husband.

She had to leave for a week on a trip, and he did the most romantic thing. He loaded up his iPod with a special playlist and sent it with her.

She never forgot the song that opened the playlist. It was a man singing about his fear of letting down the woman he loved.

“I believed, from that day on, that his goal in his relationship with me was to live up to the man he knew he could be,” she said. “It gave me great comfort. I trusted him, because I knew he was going to do his best to never let me down.”

Years passed. They got married. Things changed.

They moved, and Alaya’s husband had a hard time finding work in his field. They had their first child, and money was tight.

The man she’d married had been optimistic, loving, and dedicated to being a better man. But now he was sarcastic, sometimes bitter, and increasingly selfish.

“I talked about doing date nights, but he said he was too tired. He would make jokes about fat women, while I wasn’t even close to getting my pre-baby figure back. Where did my husband go? I didn’t even know this man.”

What would you tell Alaya?

Divorce him? Get him to couples counseling? Sit him down and lay down the law?

One suggestion that’s probably not on your list is to tell him how proud she is of him.

But praise works where criticism fails.

To show you how it works, let’s rewind Alaya’s story back to the beginning. Remember that promise her future husband made to her? The promise to never let her down?

What Alaya didn’t realize back then was that his promise required something from her. It was up to her to show him that he hadn’t let her down.

Understand this secret, and you hold the key to keeping your man committed.

A man enters a relationship with the desire to be his partner’s hero. He thrives when he exceeds her expectations. When a man can please the woman he’s with, he feels masculine, powerful, and overwhelmed with love.

In fact, the more she rewards his efforts with praise and gratitude, the more love he feels for her.

It may seem odd to you that love would be tied to performance for men, but think of it this way. When a man does well—whether at work, school, or in relationship—he gets praised. That praise gives him confidence and makes him even more committed to try even harder. It’s a virtuous cycle…

Until things start falling apart.

Their life gets more demanding. She asks more of him. He forgets to do what he promised. He fails to meet her needs.

Or maybe she’s consistently loving, but he’s having a hard time getting work. They’re living in a dump. He lies awake at night, brooding.

He realizes he’s broken the promise he made to himself when they got together. He’s letting her down. He’s failed.

To protect himself, he does the one thing she doesn’t expect:

He pulls back from her.

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Early-Stage Relationships: When to Quit. When to Persevere.

Early-Stage Relationships: When to Quit. When to Persevere.Are you the kind of person who gives up on new relationships a little too early? Or do you find that you stick with a less-than-ideal guy a little too long?

Most of us tend to err on one side or the other. Which side do you lean toward?

Fair warning, though. We’re going to start by talking about a seemingly unrelated topic: Poker.

Even if you’ve never played, you’re likely familiar with the game. There are cards and people make bets. You don’t have to know any more than that. We’re going to talk about the betting.

Players take turns betting based on how strong they think their hand is . . . or based on how well they believe they can bluff. Sometimes a player will bet a lot and then have second thoughts.

They know they’re going to lose. But they stay in anyway. They even keep betting. Poker players call this being “pot committed.” It means they already have a lot of money in the pot (the total of all the bets for that round), so that they feel they can’t afford to just bail.

So they invest even more money into something that’s doomed to fail.

A recent study confirms the very same thing happens in romantic relationships.[1] The study’s authors refer to this as the “sunk cost effect.” The more time, money or effort we put into something, the harder it is to let go.

 It works the other way, too. The less you put into something, the less likely you are to stick with it.

And here’s the kicker. Putting too much OR too little into your relationship will mess with the balance of the connection you have with your guy.

Some of us stick around too long. Some of us bail too soon. Whichever situation you’re in, there’s a way to find balance so you have exactly  the kind of romantic connection you’re looking for.

It all comes down to one really important concept.

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The Secret to Instant Sex Appeal

The Secret to Instant Sex AppealWould you rather look sexier or feel sexier?

What if you could have BOTH?

You can. And no matter if you’re currently single or happily dating, the effect on your love life can be profoundly positive.

There are many ways to feel sexier.  But one of the simplest ways is the tried and true cosmetic, lipstick.

Let me explain.

Psychologists have known about the “lipstick effect” for a while. The term was coined after the Great Depression when cosmetic sales soared despite limited financial resources.[1] It was later confirmed as a legitimate trend. But not without some backlash.

A few years ago, a group of researchers argued that women only try to make themselves more attractive to secure a mate. [2] The theory was understandable unsettling, as it suggested women will do whatever’s necessary just to find a man.

But a recent study has revealed something new. A team of Harvard researchers found that women actually perform cognitive tasks better if they’re wearing make-up.[3]

And they don’t think this has anything to do with being desperate for a guy. Their conclusion was that a boost in confidence translates to other improvements.

Here’s how I’d say it.

When you feel better about yourself, you do everything better in every environment. You’ll have better conversations, engage with guys on a more authentic level, and ultimately come across as sexier – inside and out.

So how can you give yourself an instant confidence boost? I have three suggestions. None of them have to do with bright shades of lipstick, but all of them make you feel more confident in your own skin.

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A Curious Reason Explains Why Some Men Pull Away

A Curious Reason Explains Why Some Men Pull AwayThere’s not a woman alive it hasn’t happened to.

You think it’s going so well—

Until he pulls back.

He stops calling. He doesn’t reply to your texts. You have no idea where his attention has gone.

If you’re lucky, he shows up one day, acting as if nothing happened. When questioned, he just shrugs. “I’ve been busy.”

Busy?

So busy he couldn’t call you?

So busy he couldn’t answer your texts?

Of course he must be lying.

Maybe there’s someone else. Maybe he’s having doubts.

Whatever it is, you won’t rest until you get to the bottom of it.

And that’s the beginning of the end. He feels like you don’t trust him, or accuses you of suffocating him, while all you want is a guy who keeps in touch and lets you know what’s going on. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

There are a lot of reasons this dynamic can occur, but one of the most interesting comes from attachment theory.

Understand it, and you’ll see why a man’s distance may just be due to his attachment style.

Attachment theory proposes that each of us has 1 of 3 major attachment styles.

  1. Securely attached
  2. Insecurely attached: Avoidant
  3. Insecurely attached: Anxious

The second attachment style, avoidant, is the one you need to know about, because it can cause a man to act distant even when he genuinely wants to be with you.

But first, what are attachment styles?

They’re strategies we use to get our needs met. They’re developed back in early childhood, in response to both our own genetic temperament, and how we experienced the bond with our primary caregiver.

If your parents were smothering or controlling, you probably pulled back. You wanted their love, but you needed more control over when and how closeness occurred. As a result, you developed an avoidant attachment style.

If your parents were inconsistent—emotionally volatile, or not always there—you may have looked for ways to keep them close to you. You were always afraid of losing their love or attention. As a result, you developed an anxious attachment style.

If your parents were consistently loving, able to bond with you emotionally without overwhelming you, then you had it made. You could confidently go out into the world, knowing help was available if you stumbled. You developed a secure attachment style.

Although there are formal tests to determine your attachment style, you can take a reasonably good guess which style describes you best by answering this question:

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4 Easy Ways to Enhance Conversation with Your Date

4 Easy Ways to Enhance Conversation with Your DateDo you have a strategy for making a real connection with a guy when you go out? Would you like one? How about four?

Because boy, oh boy does bad conversation get awkward when you’re on a date.

You know the kind I mean. You sit down at the table, the waiter takes your drink order, and then the two of you stare at anything but each other because the silence is wildly uncomfortable. He asks what looks good for dinner, and you say something about the chicken. Soon you’re reading—actually reading—the little “table tent” advertising the happy hour specials.

When the waiter comes back, you want to ask if you can leave with him.

Pure torture. And the sad truth is I’m not just talking about first dates. Sometimes long-term relationships get to that point, too. That hurts on a whole different level.

But the good news is there are ways to encourage conversation without making it feel forced.

A recent study found that there’s actually an ideal temperature for inspiring social interaction. (It’s 71.6°.) Similarly, there are ideal conversational habits for getting a good discussion going, too.

And the good news gets better. This stuff is easy. In fact, it’s stuff you probably already do in some situations. The challenging part is remembering to use these techniques when you’re on a date.

If you can remember to work these four conversational skills into your dating banter, relationship-building conversation will flow.

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Who’s Smarter in Love: Your Head, Your Heart, or Your Gut?

Who’s Smarter in Love: Your Head, Your Heart, or Your Gut?When it comes to relationships, no one can make decisions for you.

You’re the only one who knows what’s in your heart.

But there’s a problem with listening to your heart.

Your head doesn’t always agree.

In fact, they often tell you two separate things.

“Go ahead, text him and tell him what a great time you had!”
“No! Don’t do that. He’ll think you’re too eager.”
“But he seems like such a nice guy. And it’s just a friendly text.”
“You’re just going to shoot yourself in the foot, I’m telling you.”

Your head is the voice of reason. It believes in following rules. It warns you against acting impulsively. And it doesn’t trust your heart.

After all, hasn’t your heart led you astray before? Follow your heart, and look where you end up. You make better decisions when you think things through carefully … or do you?

Way too confusing.

That’s why I want to suggest an alternative way of making relationship decisions.

It involves listening to your second brain:

The brain in your gut.

Also known as the enteric nervous system, the 100 million neurons in your gut don’t just help digest the food you eat. They also affect your mood.

Ever felt sick to your stomach or got butterflies in your stomach? Then you’ve experienced the mind-gut connection.

Research into the fascinating world of the thinking gut is still in its infancy. But common sense urges us to trust our gut instincts. Because our gut is responding to a vast reservoir of subconscious processing.

Your conscious thoughts are like the tiny bit of an iceburg that sticks up above the water’s surface.  90% of your thought process is going on below the level of conscious awareness.  But your gut is like an antenna.  It picks up on all that subconscious processing.

It can be hard to tease out what your gut is saying when your heart is urging you to love freely and your head is warning you to hold back.

So here’s a trick I sometimes recommend.

Get clear on the question you’re asking. For example, are you wondering if you should go out with him again?

First, imagine what would happen if you said yes. Paint a clear picture in your head of what that would entail. Imagine yourself making arrangements to meet up, getting ready for the date, and waiting for him to arrive.

Then do this.

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Low Self-Esteem Linked to Staying in Bad Relationships

Low Self-Esteem Linked to Staying in Bad RelationshipsWe’ve heard it a thousand times:

Love yourself.

If you don’t love yourself, you’ll settle for a man who doesn’t value you.

That’s obvious, right?

But looking back on your relationship history, you may be able to pick out quite a few exes who didn’t value you. Even a few that you probably settled for.

Does that mean you don’t love yourself?

“Love yourself,” like a lot of feel-good sayings, is popular because it feels true.

But the more you dig down into it, the more you find it doesn’t actually tell you much at all.

Let’s say you’re talking with a friend about a romantic difficulty you’ve found yourself in. She looks you straight in the eye and tells you, “Girl, you just gotta love yourself!”

Of course you’re going to nod. Naturally,  you know she’s right.

But how has that comment helped you?

What can you possibly do with it?

Are you going to go home and start loving yourself from this day forward?

It would be nice if you could. But self-love isn’t that easy.

Here’s what we do know. We know there’s a link between low self-esteem and staying in bad relationships.

A study found that partners with low self-esteem avoid confrontation for fear of rejection.[1] They don’t want to bring up problems, because they worry that any complaint could cost them the relationship.

So is the answer to tell that person to love herself…

Or help her develop the courage to ask for what she wants?

I can’t give anyone the self-love they may be missing. But what I can do is help my coaching clients envision how it would feel to them to be in a great relationship.

When you know in your heart what a great relationship feels like to you, you can see the difference between the one you’re in now and the one you want to be in.

You may still struggle with feeling worthy, but knowing that what you have isn’t what you want will give you enormous power.

The power to ask for changes to your existing relationship … or release it with love.

So let’s look at some questions to help you brainstorm what your great relationship might look like.

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Why He Loves It When You Frustrate Him

Why He Loves It When You Frustrate HimPicture this.

You’ve got two dates lined up this week. Both are with equally handsome, accomplished, interesting men.

Bachelor #1 is the perfect gentleman. Your two hours together fly by. He asks for your number and promises to call.

Bachelor #2 is inconsistent. He acts interested in you one minute, then looks at his phone the next. After an hour, he tells you he has enjoyed getting to know you, but he has to leave. He looks deeply into your eyes and seems to be soaking you in for a few seconds. Then he hands you his phone and asks you to enter your contact details.

By the end of the week, you find yourself thinking about one of the men constantly. You keep wondering if he’s going to call.

Which man is it?

Bachelor #1 or #2?

Hold that thought. See what you think of my next question before I tell you the answer.

In the end, both men called you and arranged subsequent dates. Bachelor #1 showed up on time, and you had another wonderful evening together. Bachelor #2 ended up canceling on you but made up for it by taking you on a surprise date to a mysterious destination. You were amazed to find yourself flying on a hot air balloon over the countryside.

Now, which man is in your thoughts the most?

Steady, stable Bachelor #1…

Or unpredictable, exciting Bachelor #2?

You don’t have to be the kind of woman who likes bad boys to get swept up by one.

Unpredictability is exciting. It exerts a powerful pull. Not knowing the answer to the question, “Does he love me? Does he love me not?” keeps him on your mind.

You already know what Bachelor #1 is going to do. He’s going to call you when he says he will. He’s going to show up on time. But you don’t know what Bachelor #2 is going to do. He’s sending you mixed signals. Counterintuitively, that makes him more attractive.

Dr. Helen Fisher calls this “frustration attraction.” Inconsistent rewards ramp up interest, whereas predictability kills it.

You might compare it to gambling. Given that so many people lose the money they gamble, you’d expect to see a lot of frustrated people walking out of casinos, vowing never to return. Instead, the rare experience of winning erases all those bad memories of losing.

It’s the same in dating.

Winning his full, undivided attention feels so good that it erases all those bad memories of feeling frustrated.

So frustration isn’t the deterrent you’d think it would be. Rather, it transforms an otherwise average guy into a prize to be captured.

No wonder bad boys and girls who play hard to get are so successful. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “The essence of romance is uncertainty.”

So what can you do to protect yourself … and get a little of that frustration magic for yourself?

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One Argument Trap That’s Easy To Avoid

One Argument Trap That’s Easy To AvoidYour brain is programmed to have a very specific reaction to fear. That reaction can save your life. But it can also wreck your relationships.

Let’s take a quick trip back in time.

Imagine you lived thousands of years ago, long before the world was civilized. Life was considerably more perilous. In order to survive, you had to be ready for danger literally all the time.

These days, a saber-toothed tiger isn’t going to make a snack pack of you on the way to work. That’s not how the modern world works. And yet, the primitive fear reaction that allowed your ancestors to pass down their genetic code to you is still active in your brain.

Which is often inconvenient. Like, for example, when there’s an argument with someone you care about.

Conflict has a way of triggering FEAR. And while romance is (hopefully) mostly carefree, there are definitely moments when intimacy can be scary.

When those moments pop up, a specific part of your brain goes into overdrive: the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for several things, but it serves as an instant on-switch for fear.[1]

When we feel afraid, the amygdala kicks into high-gear.  That elicits a response that psychologists refer to as “fight, flight or freeze.”[2]

When the amygdala goes into action, high-level reasoning SHUTS DOWN. This is known as an “amygdala hijack.”[3] The results make for horrible communication.

An amygdala hijack completely destroys any chance of productive dialogue. Some people fight harder. Some people just shut down. Some even physically run away, leaving the room and refusing to re-engage.

No one is immune to this, no matter how level-headed they are otherwise. The worst communication mistake you can make is to try to communicate while either of you are in the middle of an amygdala hijack.

Amygdala hijacks are going to happen, but they don’t have to wreck your relationship. There’s a simple, three-step plan you can use to handle them well. And the beautiful part is, it works every single time.

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How To Be Less Self-Conscious

How To Be Less Self-ConsciousSophie plopped herself down in a chair. “I did it again,” she announced.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Sabotaged myself. Completely wrecked a promising encounter with a cute guy.”

I waited for her to say more. I noticed how small she seemed with shoulders slumped…as if she was shrinking away from life. Her dazzling smile hidden behind the clouds.

Sophie was fun, smart, attractive, the whole package. But she didn’t always present her best self, to put it mildly.

“So I was at home, and there was this knock at the door. I got up and opened it, and there was this cute guy standing there. Seriously cute. With those kind, crinkly eyes I go crazy for. I thought Prince Charming dropped out of the sky, you know?”

Sophie continued, “He was asking for my neighbor. He must have got the house number wrong. I told him where to go, and he took a step back. Then he paused! He looked around and told me what a beautiful house I had. I was like, yes! Clearly he was looking for a reason to keep talking to me.”

“That’s a good thing, right?” I asked.

“Wrong. Because I started to get panicky. I realized I was wearing my worst sweatshirt, I hadn’t done my makeup, and my face was all shiny. If Prince Charming drops on your doorstep, you want to look your best.”

“So what?” I said. “He’d already seen you. What he saw must have made a favorable enough impression.”

Sophie sighed. “That’s the kind of thing I knew you’d say.  And it’s the kind of thing I only think of after the fact. Long story short, I started to panic. I have no idea what I said to him, only that I was probably babbling like some crazy woman. He left, and I was actually grateful. I was so embarrassed.”

Most of us have had an experience or two like that, when we really wanted to impress someone but started to panic instead.

It’s natural to feel self-conscious when you put yourself out there. Who doesn’t feel self-conscious before an important presentation or entering a crowded room of strangers?

But for Sophie, self-consciousness wasn’t an occasional thing. It was a habit. Every time she felt any hint of attraction, she immediately went into self-judgment. She could feel her brain freeze. Instead of enjoying herself, all she could think of was how she must be coming across.

Common wisdom tells us to deal with self-consciousness by reminding ourselves that people pay half as much attention to us as we think. The only person tracking our every move is us.

Sounds great, but self-consciousness is remarkably impervious to logic. Sophie knew she shouldn’t be so self-conscious, but she couldn’t reason herself out of an instinctive reaction.

How could she break this self-sabotaging habit?

Here’s what I suggested:

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When to Trust Your Intuition in Romance

When to Trust Your Intuition in RomanceHow much do you trust your intuition?

In our culture, we talk a lot about women’s intuition. A number of my clients have even told me that influential women in their lives encouraged them to always trust their intuition.

Here’s the picture we tend to paint.

Men rely on reason. Their raw logic. Women, on the other hand, are more tuned into subtle clues. They use their intuition to feel their way through difficult situations—with grace and strength, of course.

Personally, I don’t like making those kinds of assumptions based on gender. But the idea that women rely on intuition is pretty strong in our culture.

So much so that Marilyn Monroe once said, “A woman knows by intuition, or instinct, what is best for herself.” While intuition can be good, it’s not completely reliable.

That’s because intuition is a complicated thing.

Your brain is like a really advanced supercomputer. It processes some things way faster than you can articulate them. What we call “intuition” is really just your brain working quickly, and recognizing patterns outside of your conscious awareness.

And more often than not, your intuition is right. But what about the times when it’s wrong?

In a recent study, a group of researchers set out to understand what happens when intuition leads us astray. They found that when intuition is wrong, it only makes things worse.

As one of the researchers explained, “. . . people who strongly trust their gut instincts tend to harshly condemn moral transgressions, and they do not change their point of view even after thinking about the issue.”

In other words, if you put a lot of faith in your intuition, it can make you close-minded. When you’re wrong, you won’t be likely to see it. That can really mess with a relationship.

So what do you do? If intuition is almost always right, you don’t want to ignore it. But you don’t want to trust it completely, either.

The key is finding the right balance. Follow three simple guidelines to get the biggest romantic boost out of your intuition . . . without getting bit in the behind.

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The “Effortless Mindset” for Stress-Free Success

The “Effortless Mindset” for Stress-Free SuccessThere are so many things in life you really want…

But you don’t have.

Like the perfect relationship. Or the perfect career. Or the perfect home.

When clients come to me for help with getting what they want, I watch the pattern of their thoughts.  Because everyone has problems.  But it’s our thinking that determines our ability to rise above them.

What I tell my clients is that changing the way you think about your problems will help you achieve your dreams faster than fixing your problems.

It all comes down to mindset.

Change your mindset, and your entire life shifts automatically. No hard work required.

So, what’s the most effective way to think about what’s standing between you and your goals?

Let me show you the two most common thinking traps. Then I’ll share the secret to an effortless mindset for relationship success.

Mindset #1:
“Something is wrong with the world.”

Why don’t you have what you want?

You know why. The world is stupid. It’s not set up to make anything easy. Dating is a waste of time, men are jerks, and culture is centered around superficial standards of beauty that no woman could possibly measure up to.

There are obstacles everywhere you look. Statistically, the chances of you finding lasting love are so slim you might as well not bother. Everyone else has it so much easier. You’ve had to fight hard for every single thing you’ve achieved.

When you’re living within this mindset, life is such a struggle. It’s exhausting. Fix one problem, and twenty more pop up.

Luckily, there’s a better way.

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Have You Ever Felt Like Dating Isn’t Fair?

Dating Isn’t FairThere’s probably a lot you expect from dating. Romance, for sure. Some ups and downs are a given. The occasional heartbreak. But let me ask you this.

Do you expect dating to be fair?

Recently, I’ve been visiting with my friend, Crystal. She’s single, and I couldn’t tell you why. She’s attractive, she has a great job, is fun to be around, and is generally successful in life. But she can’t seem to land a guy.

Believe me, she’s tried. She’s still trying. And it upsets her that she can’t seem to pull it off.

As we talked about it, I realized something. Crystal expects dating to be fair. She thinks she’ll get out of it what she puts into it. That if she’s the best version of herself she can be, someone is bound to fall for her. It’s almost like she thinks the universe owes her a fulfilling connection.

But it doesn’t.

A lot of people mistakenly think life is (or at least should be) fair. But if you believe life is fair, you’re actually setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary pain.

Researchers at NYU recently proved this in a study[1] of more than 250 middle school aged kids. Granted, you’re operating at a much higher level of maturity than the average middle schooler. However, I strongly suspect the findings of this study hold true throughout life.

The study found that participants who believe life is fair “demonstrated lower self-esteem, a higher propensity to engage in risky behaviors, and a lessened willingness to follow directions.”[2]

If you believe life is fair, you’re likely to feel shortchanged. And when you feel shortchanged, you don’t think well of yourself and you don’t make good decisions.

Do you know what the problem is?

Life isn’t fair. And neither is dating. But don’t despair.  You can rise above that sobering fact.

Your best shot at finding the love you want is to rise above the unfairness. To do that, you need to commit to three things.

Protect your heart.

First and foremost, take care of yourself.

Don’t rush headlong into love, even if you’ve been looking for a while. Allow time for new relationships to develop. If you’re in a long-term relationship already, don’t be too quick to move it to the next level.

It’s okay to take chances. Just take smart chances.

 That guy who’s cheated on the last several girls he’s dated? Yeah, he may be a looker and a smooth talker, but don’t you dare take a chance on him. Protect your heart by waiting for someone who really deserves you.

Now here’s the next commitment I want you to make to yourself…

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How Cute Puppies Can Improve Your Relationship

How To Improve Your RelationshipHow do you handle difficult patches in your relationships? How do you reclaim the magic?

The answer can make or break a relationship. Some couples can go through a rough period and come out the other side closer. Some just . . . don’t make.

Would you like to know what the successful couples do? The secret involves cute puppies. More on that in a bit.

First, why do relationships have low points at all. If you’re really supposed to be with this guy, should things ever feel tense? Or is tension a sign that he’s not the one?

There are relationship experts out there who argue both sides. For example, Travis Bradberry is the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. He cites four signs that a relationship is failing. All four of them have to do with tension.[1]

On the other end of the spectrum, therapist Margarita Tartakovsky makes the case that conflict actually strengthens romance.[2]

Confused yet? Let’s pause and talk about cute puppies.

Researchers from Florida State University recently set out to determine if looking at pictures of cute puppies could help struggling couples regain some of their lost intimacy. The verdict? Cute puppies make a difference.

Couples who looked at images of adorable puppies just once every three days actually began to feel more positively toward each other.[3] It’s all about association. When you enjoy something, you enjoy other things you associate with it.

You can use the same effect to give it a boost. I have three tips for unlocking the magic of positive association.

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3 Things That Have Nothing to Do with Dating Can Dramatically Improve Romance

3 Things That Have Nothing to Do with Dating Can Dramatically Improve RomanceDating is weird. In some ways, it seems so simple. Find someone you like and spend time with them. In other ways, it’s incredibly complex. Let’s explore one of those more complex elements.

But first, a quick head’s up. You already know this stuff. Maybe you’ve connected it to dating before, and maybe you haven’t. Either way, I’m sure there’s nothing here that’ll be new to you.

Just think of this as a helpful reminder. Kind of like going back to the basics.

In the world of self-help, we all have a tendency to pay a lot of attention to what’s new. The newest book. The newest TED talk. The newest research study.

That stuff is cool. But if you only have a little bit of time, you’d be better off focusing on stuff that’s old.

I’m talking about tried-and-true self-help concepts. Books that have stood the test of time. Basic self-care routines that lower stress. Ideas that have proven to be among the most powerful foundations for a life well lived.

These ideas are not as exciting as new stuff. But most of the new stuff will fade into the background before long. And only a few of those new ideas will stand the test of time, proving to be some of the best concepts for enhancing your life.

So here’s the point…

If you’re interested in fiery passion and overall fulfillment (I know you are!), then it’s important to go back to the basics from time to time. When you get the core parts of your life in order, then you’re really set up for dating success.

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Have a Summer Romance All Year Round

How To Make Dating FunEver wondered why it’s so easy to flirt when you’re on vacation?

Or why so many romances start in the summer?

It all comes down to

Playfulness.

Relaxation, enjoyment, and endless stretches of free time create a magical environment for love to flourish.

Which is exactly why it’s so difficult to meet anyone when you’re tired, busy, and rushing to meet deadlines.

Meeting someone becomes just another box to check off. You’d like to meet someone—and you know you should be putting the effort in—but you’ve got too much going on. Chatting up a man, no matter how attractive he is, can feel more like work than fun.

Is there a way to recreate that magical summer vacation feeling, even on the dreariest winter workday?

Absolutely!

All it takes is these two simple steps…

Step 1. Create a ‘Worry Pot’

Summer vacations are so wonderful because we give ourselves permission to forget about the cares of our everyday lives for a week or two.

We have only one goal: to enjoy ourselves.

And there’s nothing that attracts a man’s attention more than a woman who’s having fun.

We need to take a break from our worries more than once a year!

In an ideal world, we’d be able to set aside time every day to relax and forget out about our concerns. (In fact, that’s one reason why television is so popular. It shuts your mind off temporarily, giving you a break from that constant mental chatter.)

Practices like meditation and yoga can help still the mind, but you don’t need anything that formal. You can just set an intention.

When you’re about to walk out the door to go to a social event—whether it’s a date, a barbecue, or a concert—imagine taking your worries and to-do list out of your head and setting them down in a special place. Maybe it’s a vase or a bowl that you’ve left there to represent your “Worry Pot.” (Decorate it so that it will catch your eye, helping you remember to use it.) Those worries will be there waiting patiently for you until you get back.

In the meantime, go forth and be free! Take that much-needed mental vacation.

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Boost Your Social Confidence

How To Boost Your Social ConfidenceDo you compare yourself to other women?

I know, dumb question.

It’s hard not to. In fact, it’s perfectly natural.

But here’s the problem. As a relationship consultant, I often see the negative impact it has on a woman’s social confidence.

And that’s because we tend to compare ourselves with the few people who seem to have it all together. She’s got a killer job, a beautiful face, perfect hair, money for all the right accessories, and the guys she dates . . .

She makes it look easy. And in the process, she makes you feel less confident.

She may be a friend. She could be an enemy. She might even be a frenemy. Whatever category she falls into, you seethe with jealousy. Why does she get all of that while you feel like you have to work really hard for a fraction of the success?

Here’s something to consider. Maybe she isn’t as happy and confident as she seems.

Her dating success is maddening. Why does it seem so effortless for her when you’re working your tail off?!

How can you be expected to tolerate her easy success? In a word, gracefully. And here’s how you pull that off.

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How Do You Make a Man Like You?

How Do You Make a Man Like You?I love it when I get asked:

“How do you make someone like you?”

It’s a fantastic question. Because we all want to be liked.

We want to make friends, or win fans, or excel at networking. We want the social approval that smooths the way to success.

But where the question gets really interesting is with respect to romance.

To a certain extent, the same skills that help you win friends also help you attract the opposite sex. Being friendly, approachable, and interested in other people always helps.

Mindset matters, too. If you believe you have to “make” people like you, you end up performing like a trick horse to win their attention. But if you genuinely believe that everyone loves you already—they just don’t know you yet—your confidence wins hearts.

But romance is different from winning friends in one important respect:

Being liked isn’t enough.

You want him to be interested in you as a potential girlfriend. And that means he’s got to look at you differently than his other female friends. There’s got to be a spark of intrigue, chemistry, and a deeper sort of fascination.

How in the world do you whip up that potent cocktail?

Do you make sure you’re always looking as sexy as you possibly can—without being too obvious? Do you flirt so subtly he’s never quite sure if you mean it?

Do you alternate friendliness with coolness, so you keep him off guard?

Here are three lesser-known tactics that work just as well.

  1. Open up to ANY relationship, not just one with him.

One of the biggest blocks to attraction is being emotionally or energetically closed off.

Envision a woman who’s in love with her co-worker. He sits just a few cubicles down from her, but she’s too afraid to make eye contact or stop and chat with him. She wants him to like her, but she’s afraid of making a move in case he rejects her.

There’s an easy way to reduce the risk of rejection, and that’s by opening yourself up emotionally to any new relationship, whether it’s romantic or not.

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How Our Favorite Habits Can Blind Us to Romantic Opportunities

How Our Favorite Habits Can Blind Us to Romantic OpportunitiesYou’re loyal to what you like.

Found the best coffee shop in town? Then that’s where you’re going for your caffeine hit.

Got a certain band’s album on repeat? Then you’re going to see them in concert when they play in a city near you.

You find the best lunch spot, or the best gym, (the best relationship coach 😉) or the best place for happy hour, and that’s where you go without fail.

We’re creatures of habit. We trust in what we know.

But when it comes to love, those habits can hold us back.

When you’re a regular anywhere, you get to know people and people get to know you. You feel comfortable. You can relax. Socializing is a breeze.

But sticking to what you know can also shrink your world…

Erasing romantic opportunities before you have a chance to notice them.

SELECTIVE ATTENTION

We tend to think that we see what’s in front of us. If a gorilla ran through a basketball court mid-game, surely we’d notice it.

But that’s not always the case.

Instead, we see what we expect to see. The amount of information bombarding our senses is too great for our brains to take in and process. So our brains filter out anything that’s irrelevant.

In fact, a famous study found that, if we were asked to keep track of who was passing the ball, only half of us would notice a gorilla running through a basketball court.

What might you be missing in your everyday environment, simply because you don’t expect to see it there?

Are you missing chances to connect with interesting, good-looking, available men?

Let’s say you’re standing next to your best friend, chatting animatedly about the movie you just saw as you wait in line for a burger. There’s a guy standing a few feet away, glancing at you periodically, waiting for a break in your conversation so he can come over and introduce himself.

But you only see what you expect to see: your friend.

You don’t see what you don’t expect to see: someone you’ve never met before, hoping to talk to you.

You grab your burger and move on, never imagining that you just missed your potential dream guy.

How can you break that habit and start opening your eyes to the romantic opportunities all around you?

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How to Keep Stress from Killing Your Relationship

How to Keep Stress from Killing Your RelationshipHow’s your stress level? Are there days when you feel overloaded? Days when, as much as you care about him, stress affects how you treat your guy?

Anna would understand. She’s a busy woman. She works fulltime, juggles an active social life, her boyfriend, and time in the gym, all while dealing with a 30-minute commute to and from work.

A few days ago, she was trudging home from a long day at work when she got pulled over. Speeding. There goes the shopping spree she was considering.

Then her boss called. Major problems with a big client. Yay.

Then she stopped off at the store for groceries. Distracted as she was, she forgot several things and had to go back in. And when she got home, she chipped one of her newly manicured nails while bringing in the food.

She was ready to scream.

That was when she ran into her boyfriend. He was delighted to see her, excited about dinner and a relaxing night. But it didn’t end up being the pleasant evening she’d been looking forward to.

Anna was past her breaking point, and her boyfriend paid the price. He hadn’t done anything wrong, but she was snippy and irritable. They ended up fighting when what she really wanted (and needed) was his support.

Maybe you’ve been there, too.

Stress is just a part of life. You can’t avoid it completely, especially if you have a packed schedule like Anna. Left unchecked, stress will have a negative effect on your relationship. Tense people tend to take out their stress on their partners.[1]

Since you can’t stop stress, how do you keep it from having a negative effect on your relationship?

The most important thing is to be aware of it. Recognize you’re stressed when you’re stressed. That’s essential.

Once you have that self-awareness down, there are a handful of practical things[2] you can do to ensure that your bad day doesn’t lead to a frustrating setback with your man.

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Be Friends with Your Man (Just Not All The Time)

How To Be Friends with Your ManDo you consider your partner a friend? You should.

Sometimes.

The French philosopher Jean de la Bruyere once said, “Love and friendship exclude each other.”

This is a deep topic. I mean, think about what the average dating relationship is like.

There are similarities to friendship, for sure. You share mutually enjoyable activities, hang out, talk, support each other, and generally stay in close communication. That doesn’t sound all that different from your connection with your best friend.

And then there’s the stuff you DON’T do with your best friend. Like kiss.

In one sense, an underlying friendship makes romance stronger. But, to our French friend’s point, there’s a reason we use terms like “the friend zone” to describe guys you’re not into. Friendship is NOT romantic love.

Researchers have even studied the tension between the two concepts. Here’s what they found.

When you’re not friendly toward your guy, he’ll want you more. Basically, he’ll be more inclined to chase what he doesn’t have. But without the underlying likeability of friendship, he’ll be less satisfied with what he gets when he catches you.[1]

What a catch-22. Be his buddy, but kill the passion. Or keep the passion alive, but crush your actual connection.

How in the world can you be friends with your guy without wrecking the romance? You have to be his part-time friend. Sometimes he’s your pal, and sometimes he’s your MAN.

Striking that balance is tricky, but doable. You have to intentionally cultivate both the friendship and the romance. That means doing two things…

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3 Rules You Need to Know about Men

How To Understand MenI can’t get away with saying that men aren’t complicated.

Women don’t believe me. They’ve been on the receiving end of too many mystifying texts or communication blackouts. If men were simple, wouldn’t they say what they mean and cut the games?

But if I said, “We guys are not complicated,” to a roomful of guys, every single one would nod. Men don’t see themselves as complicated. We like to think we’re pretty straight-forward.

So who’s right? Are men simple or mysterious?

I’ve come to realize that male behavior is mystifying to women—but not to other men.  It all makes sense once you learn the male code.

A friend of mine, who also writes about relationships, spends a lot of time reading books written by men for men about what it means to be a man. She says it’s been a huge eye-opener for her. She had no idea men worried so much.

She now understands that men don’t really inhabit the same world she does. What he sees and what she sees can differ a lot. She can’t figure out his behavior by putting herself in his shoes, because his shoes don’t fit.

It works both ways. Sometimes I recommend that men read a romance novel, to give them insight into female fantasies. They resist it every step of the way. They’re sure they’ll hate it.

But it gives them a lot to think about. They may have never thought about why romance and passion matter. They start to see it’s less about how they perform and more about how she feels.

The male code has gotten a lot of attention in recent decades. Authors like Sam Keen and Robert Bly raised awareness of the harmful and heroic sides of manhood. Most men are now aware that becoming a man has as much to do with culture as biology.

But what are the unwritten rules of manhood? And how do they affect you?

Here’s a quick introduction.

Male Rule #1:
Think logically.

True or false?

Men are rational; women are emotional.

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Get Your Love Life Moving Faster by Setting Goals

Get Your Love Life Moving Faster by Setting GoalsThere are two schools of thought when it comes to dating.

School #1 says: “It will happen when it happens.”

Don’t force things. Trust that it’s all happening perfectly. Pay attention to your intuition and surrender the rest.

School #2 says: “You’ve got to MAKE it happen.”

Prince Charming isn’t going to show up at your doorstep. You’ve got to put yourself out there. Treat dating like a second job.

Which way of thinking feels more comfortable to you?

I’m a fan of both schools for different reasons.

School #1 is perfect for those who try so hard they end up burning themselves out.

When you’re working yourself to death trying to make something happen, it’s important to remember that you can’t control everything. Sometimes, the timing just isn’t right. Being too goal-oriented can take the fun out of searching for love.

School #2 is perfect for those who procrastinate.

Do you feel as if there’s always one more thing you need to do before you’re going to really get out there and meet someone?

Maybe you need to learn just a little bit more, or read a few more newsletters. 😉 Maybe you’re going to wait until things get less busy and you’ve got more time on your hands.

Maybe you want to wait until you lose 10 pounds, or you find a better profile pic for your hypothetical dating profile, or wait till you’re in a better mood. Maybe you’re waiting until you have time to go through my What Men Secretly Want relationship course one more time.

There’s a saying:

“If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting the rest of your life.”

No one is EVER ready for anything.

You’re never ready to have kids, or take on a mortgage, or go back to school.

You’re never ready to step into the boss’ seat, or start your own business, or put yourself out there as an expert.

It doesn’t matter whether you feel ready. You still have to take that next step forward, even if it terrifies you.

The danger lies in believing that conditions have to be right before you can have what you want, whether it’s the perfect relationship or your ideal career.

Here’s how you can bust through those doubts or hesitations holding you back.

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The Balance of Power in Your Relationship: Practicing Relationship Yoga

Creating Balance In A RelationshipI was visiting with a friend recently. She’s checking out yoga for the first time. I asked her how she likes it, and her feedback was mostly positive.

Except for one area.

“I had no idea I was so bad at balance,” she said. “Seriously, do you know how many times I’ve almost fallen on my butt in front of everyone?!”

It’s true. Balance is one of the hardest things – in yoga and in life. In life, balance allows you to achieve a higher quality of life.

Author and speaker Susan Piver has this to say about balance in yoga. “Is it ever possible to be balanced? I don’t think that it is, because then you’d have to freeze in that position. ‘Got it. Now don’t move.’”[1]

Maybe you can hold a yoga pose for a few deep breaths, but you can’t live your life in that pose. You’ll have to move and walk and do stuff. And as soon as you engage in life, balance is broken.

Literally, every step you take, you’re working to maintain enough balance to avoid “falling on your butt.”

Which makes me think about relationships. Do things ever really level out into a steady rhythm?

One of the most common relationship issues I hear about is the struggle for balance of power. Who calls the shots? Is it even possible to achieve balance?

I think it is . . . if you change your definition of balance.

It’s normal for power to shift back and forth between you and your guy. In that sense, you’ll never have a balanced relationship. At least not for long.

There may be rare moments when you’re both complete equals, but as soon as something happens, one of you takes the lead. That’s healthy.

But things get dicey when one of you ends up with the upper hand all the time.

As neuroscientist Berit Brogaard points out, “the controller will lose respect and admiration for the person who puts up with them, and the follower will build resentment.”[2]

Yeah, that’s not going to create a lot of warm fuzzies. So let’s change our definition of balance.

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Use Transformational Conversations to Deepen Your Relationship

How To Deepen Your RelationshipHere’s something you may have noticed about guys:

You can’t get a word in edgewise when you first start dating…

And then you can’t get a word out of him for the next 20 years.

Men get that they have to communicate to make a woman fall in love.

But it’s almost as if they use up their entire supply of words in the first month of dating.

They’ve wooed you and won you, and now they can relax into being who they really are.

Which, in many cases, means someone who sees words as practical tools rather than a source of pleasure.

The same probably isn’t true for you.

For most women and some men, talking is pleasurable. It feels good. It helps you feel connected. It lifts your spirit and recharges your soul.

So it can feel awful when the one you love only talks to you when there’s something necessary to discuss.

It’s a trap so many couples fall into. The longer they’re together, the less they talk to each other.

Communication is primarily practical, focusing on getting life organized: who’s going to pick up the kids, what’s happening this weekend, when is the car due for a service, etc.

How can you start talking again, like you did when you were dating?

How can you have the kind of conversation that keeps you up until the wee hours of the night, drunk on each other’s words?

Some strategies are obvious:

There’s another strategy, though, that I find exciting.

It involves creating the space for transformational conversations.

These are conversations that leave you changed. You see something as a result of that conversation you never saw before. You understand him or yourself in a completely different way. The way you look at the world shifts.

Chances are, you had transformational conversations in the beginning of your relationship, as you shared your thoughts and beliefs about the world and the kind of lives you wanted to live.

By now you assume you know all that about each other. You don’t have to ask each other what you believe and what you want, because you assume you know the answers.

But here’s the key:

None of us know our partners as well as we think.

Our partners ALWAYS have the capacity to surprise us, enlighten us, and jolt us out of complacency.

And transformational conversations are one tool to do that.

So how do you have a transformational conversation?

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Why You Should Play the Long Game

How To Find a Long Term RelationshipWhy You Should Play the Long Game

Jennifer was sick and tired of being overlooked by men … and she wasn’t shy about letting me know it.

“I could follow all the dating advice out there to the letter,” she complained, “and it wouldn’t do me as much good as liposuction. All I need to do is look hot. Then everything will fall into place.”

Was Jennifer right?

At a cursory glance, what she says has merit. Focus on your looks, and male attention flows. Each admiring glance feels like money in the bank.

But I like to think of the long game. And I was hoping to convince Jennifer of that, too.

There are two ways to play the dating game:

You can play the short game, or you can play the long game.

The short game is all about instant gratification. It’s about getting more male attention, the phone number requests, the hits on your online dating profile. You know you’re winning because you’re flooded with so much attention.

But the short game is hard to win. There’s a lot of competition. There are women with glossier hair, who take better selfies, or are more shameless about self-promoting.

I see so many women disheartened because they’re losing the short game. They’re not walking into venues and seeing heads swivel. They’re not getting five date requests a week.

But there’s a better game in town.

A game with higher odds of winning.

The long game is all about a lifetime of love. It’s not concerned about what happens today. It’s concerned about progress: that slow, gradual movement towards a dream. It aims for strong marriages and lifetime commitment.

What you look like isn’t so important in the long game. In fact, so-called “beautiful people” are at a disadvantage.  A 2017 Harvard study found that attractive couples are more likely to divorce, and their relationships don’t last as long.[1]

What keeps marriages together is this: Continue reading








How to Outsmart He-Said-She-Said Arguments

How to Outsmart He-Said-She-Said ArgumentsDid you know there’s a hidden danger in trusting your own memory?

Most of us think of our memory like a personal video recorder. When you remember something, it’s like sitting down in the theater of your own mind and pressing play.

Except, that’s not how memory works. Research Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus knows first hand.

When Loftus was 44 years old, her uncle told her that as a child she discovered her mother in the pool after an accidental drowning. Loftus had no memory of seeing her mom’s body, but she trusted her uncle.

Before long, she started remembering. She could picture details of the day. How her mom was dressed. Even the lights of the police cars.

Which is odd because, as it turns out, her uncle was mistaken. Loftus didn’t witness any of it. Instead, her mind created memories to match what her uncle said.[1]

That’s memory for you. We think of it as an accurate recording, but Loftus is famous for her research that shows how bad eye-witness accounts can be.  It turns out, our memories are surprisingly malleable.[2]

Memories change over time. They morph and combine. Sometimes we add to them. Sometimes we edit details out. Even otherwise honest folks have been known to fabricate entire scenes, believing something happened that never did.

Okay, so there’s A LOT we could explore here, but let’s narrow our focus. How does this affect your relationship?

That depends entirely on how much you let it.

Below are two tips for minimizing the impact of less-than-accurate memories—yours AND his! If you’re tired of he-said-she-said fights, keep reading.

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5 Relationship Myths That Make People Miserable

Relationship MythsHave you ever fallen prey to a widely-held misconception?

Here’s a completely harmless example: shaving makes hair thicker.

This old wives’ tale has been around for a long time, but there’s no truth in it.[1] Shaving can make hair look thicker. But shaving (or waxing) won’t actually make hair grow in fuller than it was before.

If you’ve ever held off removing hair for fear it would come back with a vengeance, the worst you suffered was some stubble. Not ideal, but not the end of the world.

But there are other myths that can really mess with important areas of your life. Like your love life.

But let’s back up a step. There are some commonly held beliefs that have the potential to wreck your relationships before it even gets off the ground. Buy into these lies, and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Fortunately, they’re easy to identify and disarm.

In fact, as soon as you see them for what they are, the power of these myths will be broken. Let’s tackle these five relationship lies together.

Myth #1: Relationships are hard.

Relationships are not hard. You find someone you have stuff in common with, invest time and effort, and a bond develops. It’s not complex. It’s not even difficult.

Think about it. If relationships required special skills, how would people of all intelligence levels, all backgrounds, all socioeconomic groups, and all cultures find ways to succeed in them?

Relationships themselves are not hard. But building a beautiful relationship that is based on trust and commitment is hard. It takes commitment from two people over a long period of time.

Do you want true intimacy? Then yes, you have to put in the time. You have to commit the effort. There’s no other way.

But it’s not the relationship that is hard.  Instead, think of it like a work of art. It’s a beautiful process that unfolds over time. And the best artists enjoy their work, not just the end result.

Myth #2: Men can’t be trusted.

There’s zero connection between gender and a trustworthy character. While it’s not uncommon for women (and men) to claim the other is less than trustworthy, that’s a bunch of bunk.

The truth is there are people of all kinds who can’t be trusted . . . and there are people of all kinds who CAN be trusted. It’s not about gender. It’s about the individual’s values.

If you make sweeping judgments about men, the resulting bias will cause you to misinterpret and reject the honest claims of the good men who find their way into your life.

Myth #3: Relationships get better when you fix them.
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What Romance Novels Can Teach You about Real Relationships

What Romance Novels Can Teach You About Real RelationshipsSo I’m no expert on romance novels marketed to women.

(You probably could have guessed that, right?)

But I have read a few because it’s related to work I do.

For me, the most fascinating part has nothing to do with the budding romance that inevitably swings into full bloom by the end of the book.

Rather, I’m fascinated by the way the same plot plays out over and over again.

That plot structure gives us an important clue about common problems in real life relationships.

Here’s my understanding of what happens in a typical romance:

Part 1.
Guy and Girl meet. They don’t hit it off.

Part 2.
Guy and Girl are forced to interact with each other because of a goal that requires their cooperation, like winning a competition or surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Part 3.
Guy and Girl start to build chemistry, but every time they take a baby step closer and let their guard down, something happens to drive them apart again.

Part 4.
Guy and Girl get together. The end.

This isn’t a thriller or a suspense novel. You know they’re going to get together by the end. The only surprise is how they’re going to do it.

And yet romances are completely riveting nonetheless.

In the movie version of this common plot structure you’re sitting on the edge of your seat as the Guy and Girl almost make it to that first kiss. Only to be interrupted by someone shouting, “Zombie attack!” (or something similar).

Your emotional investment gets higher each time their passion for each other is thwarted. You can’t rest until they get together and live happily ever after.

Now, that’s not usually how I’m feeling.

As a guy, I know how the plot is going to end. So I can enjoy the storyline, but I don’t get so caught up in it.

The tables are turned when it’s sports, though.

Ever been in a living room where all the men are sitting at the edge of their seats screaming at the TV while the women are hanging out in the kitchen, only occasionally glancing in to see how the game is unfolding?

Men are riveted when they have no clue who is going to win. The best games are when their team is ahead, then behind, then ahead again. Guys live for those moments when they think their team is going to lose, only for a risky play in the last few seconds to win the game.

Notice a pattern here?

We know that it’s not as satisfying for a man when his team doesn’t have to fight to win. An easy win is no win at all.

We know that a chick flick where the guy and girl meet each other, fall in love on the spot, then live happily ever after for the next two hours wouldn’t hold many people’s attention.

Conclusion:

We become more emotionally invested when we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

The longer you can sustain that unbearable tension of not knowing whether the ending you want is the ending you’re going to get, the more emotionally fulfilling the climax is.

So why rush that stage when you’re dating?

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How to Spot Your Future Husband Faster

How to Spot Your Future Husband FasterWhat are the chances your future husband is trying to meet you online?

One study suggests that it could be as high as 33%.[1]

(Other estimates are more conservative at 5% to 25%, so keep your eyes open in the real world, too. If he’s not online, he’s likely to be working at the same place you work or hanging out with mutual friends.)

But, if your future husband is online, how in the world are you going to find him? Have you seen all the potential matches out there? There are too many to sort through.

Dating sites can’t do the work for you. They can suggest matches but can’t predict chemistry. There are too many variables to consider.

Is your ideal partner near your age, or is he just outside of your ideal age range? Does he live within 30 miles of you, or does he live across the country? Does the camera love him, or will you pass over him because his profile pic is unflattering? Will you message him back, or will you ignore him because he can’t spell?

The human mind isn’t built to cope with questions like that.

Worse yet, if you consistently pick the wrong guys, you’ll waste your time on endless messaging and fruitless dates. You’ll become discouraged, frustrated, and sick of trying. Maybe the day you let your online dating membership expire is the day he tries to get in contact with you.

Luckily, your brain has a friend that knows exactly what to do.

Ever know something “in your gut”?

That’s not just a figure of speech.

You have two systems for making decisions. They’re called, quite cleverly, System 1 and System 2. (Seriously.)

System 1 is your gut or intuition. It’s what helps you make quick decisions, like whether to go for the chicken salad or double cheeseburger. You don’t have to think. You just feel the right answer.

Unfortunately, the “right” answer may actually be wrong, and that’s where System 2 comes in.

System 2 is your rational brain. The educational system taught you that System 2 is the only correct way to make a decision. Without reason, logic, and facts, you’re just guessing.

System 2 oversees our gut decisions. Perhaps your gut is urging you to move in with your boyfriend, but you write down a list of pros and cons to determine whether it’s really a good idea or not.

As great as it sounds, System 2 is remarkably bad at picking romantic partners for us.

You meet someone who is perfect on paper in every way. He’s exactly the sort of man you always said you wanted. But you’re not interested in the slightest. Your head tells you to go out with him, but your gut says, “I’ve got better plans. Pajamas. Netflix. Ice cream.”

Your gut is louder than your brain. Once it decides, its decision sticks.

So what does all that mean for online dating? And how does it help you find the perfect guy faster?

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How Personal Branding Can Help You Find Your Match

How To Find Your MatchYou’re at a party. Your host introduces you to someone you haven’t met before. He’s tall and good-looking, and his entire attention is focused on you.

He grins and says, “So, tell me about yourself.”

You stare at him like a deer caught in the headlights. He wants me to tell him about MYSELF? What do I say?

He’s still waiting. You’ve got a split second to come up with something.

What should you say?

  1. Ask, “Well, what do you want to know about me?”
  2. Tell him what you do for a living?
  3. Tell him what you do for fun?
  4. Just make sure you slip in the fact that you’re single?

We know first impressions matter. We know that it takes mere seconds for someone to decide if this is a relationship worth pursuing. Any veteran of speed dating can attest to the fact that it’s hard to rock those first few minutes.

Most advice on first impressions focuses on non-verbal body language.

But what about the talking part? If you fumble while thinking of something to say, will he look past that?

Maybe. But why take the chance when you can ensure this never happens to you?

Here’s my simple solution. Have a one or two-sentence personal brand statement prepared in your mind. It sums up who you are and why he might like to get to know you better.

Your personal brand is what makes you unique. In business, it helps distinguish you from your competitors and lets clients and potential employers know why you’re the best fit.

Personal brands are important, too. Especially when you’re dating.

An online dating profile crafted with your personal brand in mind stands out. It catches the right attention from the right people. It even suggests potential conversational topics.

A good personal brand should evoke surprise and delight. There’s something about you he wasn’t expecting. He’s intrigued—in a good way—and he wants to know more.

For many of us, it’s not easy to showcase who we are. We’d rather speak plainly about who we are and try to be as humble as possible. Treating ourselves as a “brand” feels inauthentic—and more than a little vain.

But do you really want a man to see you as ordinary and nothing special?

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This Is What Guys Really Care About

This Is What Guys Really Care AboutWhat does your guy value more than passion? Do you know?

The answer may surprise you.

Passion is pretty powerful. Men and women alike feel drawn to it. All of us want a life filled with passionate moments. But there are things that matter to us even more than passion.

So what would a guy pick over a passionate, sordid fling? Brace yourself. Your guy would rather have . . . a solid “bromance” than a relationship based on raw passion and little else.

A bromance is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s an intimate friendship between two guys who feel like they can really rely on each other. It’s like they’re a couple, minus the physical intimacy.

Recently, some researchers were curious about how seriously men take bromances. Do these male-to-male platonic connections really compete with the connection men feel with their girlfriends? The answer is no—because there is NO competition.

Bromance wins, hands down. Given the choice between a fiery fling and time with a bro, most guys will pick the bro.

That’s because men’s emotional needs are more complex than you might think. Said another way, guys deeply value what they get from a solid platonic friendship.

There’s an important word in that last paragraph. Typical.

The typical romantic relationship doesn’t meet the needs men really care about. But here’s the good news. You’re not a typical woman, and you’re not trying to create a typical relationship with him.

You don’t have to compete with the bros in your guy’s life. You just have to create the same kind of open, safe space that he feels with his male friends. And that’s not as hard as it sounds. After all, you’re probably looking for the same things from him!

If you want a romance that beats the pants off of any bromance, there are three key ingredients. When these three things are a part of your romantic connection, you’re set up for a relationship BOTH of you will find magical.

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When He Doesn’t Want All the Love You Have to Give

When He Doesn't Want Your LoveThere’s nothing worse than knowing you have a big heart…

A heart that any man would be privileged to cherish…

And yet feeling that men don’t want your love.

If you’ve ever felt like that, let me share with you a story I sometimes tell my clients.

You’re standing in a crowded mall, holding a bunch of the most beautiful long-stemmed red roses.

Your task is to hand out each and every one of these roses to passers-by.

At first, no one will even stop for you. They keep their heads down and walk past quickly, like you’re just another salesperson trying to get something from them.

It feels humiliating to put yourself on display like this, just a woman with a beautiful gift no one wants. You feel vulnerable.

But you’re not leaving until you’ve done the job, so you start to think.

You realize you can get people to stop by making eye contact with them. So you start looking out at the sea of people, searching for friendly faces. If you catch someone’s eye, you wink conspiratorially and hand out a rose with a smile. You give away your first few flowers, and you’re ecstatic.

But soon you notice that the men are still avoiding you. Why? Is it because roses are a symbol of romantic love?

You set your sights on trying to get a man to take one of your flowers. At last you manage to shove one into a man’s hand, but as he walks away he quickly drops it into a trash bin.

That’s no way to treat a gift from your heart!

By the time you’re finished, you feel drained and bruised. Facing that much rejection made you angry. You don’t know why so few people would take your gift, but a little voice inside your head is whispering that the problem was you. Maybe if you looked different, everyone would have wanted your roses.

This little story is a metaphor for how it feels to search for love.

You have a heart full of love, and you keep trying to give that love away.

But no one will take it. Men either assume you’re trying to get something from them, or they value your love so little they drop it in the trash when they think you’re not looking.

It’s not easy finding someone who’ll accept all the love you have to offer. Which is insane, because love is one of the most beautiful gifts anyone can give.

It’s unfortunate we live in a world where there are no free gifts. Everything comes with strings attached. That free sample at the cosmetics counter isn’t proof of the company’s generosity; it’s a taster designed to get you to buy the full-sized product.

So no wonder men look askance at your offer of love. They wonder what you’re “selling.” They don’t realize the value of what you have to offer.

How do you get men to be open to all the love you have to share? Here are 3 ideas.  Continue reading








The SAP Method for Dealing with Emotional Triggers

Dealing with Emotional TriggersEvery time Bryan and Jill go to her parents’ house, they have a huge argument. One that goes nuclear. And Bryan thinks he knows why.

“Jill gets weird around her family,” he says. “It’s like she’s a different person. She picks on every little thing I say. Normally I’m a pretty tolerant guy, but a weekend with her parents is enough to make me wonder why I’m with her.”

Samantha has a different problem. Every time she brings up the possibility of her boyfriend changing jobs, he lashes out at her.

She says, “I know he hates where he’s working. I’d totally support him if he wanted to look for something else. But I can’t even bring up the topic around him. It’s like he turns on me.”

What’s going on?

Hidden deep within every single one of us are emotional tripwires, also known as triggers.

If someone stumbles across that tripwire, they’d better duck, because an emotional explosion is on its way.

Maybe you’ve noticed it in past relationships. You say something innocent, and he goes ballistic. His reaction is totally out of proportion. And to be frank, it’s kind of scary. You wouldn’t have pegged him for being so irrational.

But we all have triggers. They’re left over from the past.

For Jill, the company of her family was a trigger. She grew up in a household where fighting was the norm. Even though, as an adult, she learned better ways to handle conflict, being back home activated those old pathways. When Bryan made a light-hearted comment, she perceived it as an attack—just as her siblings used to try to get her to react.

Samantha didn’t know why her boyfriend got triggered when she suggested changing jobs, but she could guess. His father was chronically unemployed, and he grew up listening to his parents argue about money. No wonder he overreacted at the idea of leaving a secure job.

Getting to know your own triggers—and the triggers of the man you love—is an essential investment in your long-term romantic future.

It’s tough to eliminate a trigger entirely, but you can “SAP” the energy from it until it’s barely noticeable. Here’s how.

S – Spot It

The quickest way to defuse an emotional overreaction is to name it. If you realize you’re being triggered, you can step back from the feelings before they escalate.  Continue reading








How to Save Your Relationship from His Children

how to have a relationship with a man who has childrenBecky thought she found the perfect guy.

There was only one problem:

His daughter hated her.

Becky told me she could understand—really, she could. From his daughter’s perspective, Becky was stealing away her dad. But that wasn’t Becky’s intention at all.

She respected the fact that her boyfriend was a father first and her partner second. She didn’t want to change anything. She just wanted to be given a chance. After all, she was young, fun and cool. Her sister’s kids liked her. What did she have to do to prove herself?

I hear from women in Becky’s situation a lot. Half of all women can expect to live with or marry a man with children.

Single dads have a lot going for them. Ideally, he made his mistakes in his first marriage, and now has a strong desire to get things right the next time around. He’s less self-centered than the average bachelor. You know up front whether he’ll make a good father by watching him with his kids.

But what you don’t know is how well his family unit will function with you in it.

In relationships where children aren’t involved, a man and a woman come together to create their own life. Both of them have an equal say in determining what that life will look like. They stand united against any forces that could tear them apart.

In relationships where children are involved, an outsider enters an already-established family unit. She’s expected to merge into established traditions seamlessly—or get blamed for wrecking things.

“I feel like a third wheel,” Becky told me. “When his daughter is with us for the weekend, she monopolizes him. If Jared and I happen to get a moment of peace together, she’ll find us and need her dad immediately for something. It’s like she wants him to choose between the two of us.”

She sighed. “Jared won’t talk to me about it, but I can tell it stresses him out. She’s asked him a couple of times not to invite me over when she’s there, but we’re talking about moving in together. She’ll have to get used to me.”

There’s nothing I would have loved more than to tell Becky about a simple and easy trick for getting her boyfriend’s daughter to like her. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Stepfamilies are tough to get right.

Relationships are hard enough, but when you bring children from a previous relationship into the mix, they get exponentially more difficult.

There is no easy answer. But there are 2 strategies that will help ease the transition to becoming a family.

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How to Know if He’s Worth It . . . On the First Date

How to Know if He’s Worth ItWant to play a fun (and completely immature) game? Fantastic. Answer the following question.

What’s the most ridiculous reason you’ve ever given for breaking up?

There’s a viral post making the rounds on social media. It includes some priceless answers to that question. Here are some of the ones that made me laugh (or cringe) the most.

Funny, right? But let’s explore the deeper side of this thing. Do you really think any of these people broke up because of the stuff listed above?

Of course not. Each justification is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In other words, if your dream guy wore the tackiest pair of jean shorts imaginable, you’d be embarrassed, but you wouldn’t ditch him.

In a sense, dating is a process of elimination. We get to know other people until we decide we’re no longer a good match. And we keep doing that until we meet the one.

But sometimes it’s hard to see it’s time to move on. After all, even short dating relationships represent an investment of time and emotion. It’s not always easy to walk away.

What if there was a way to determine early on if a guy even stands a shot at being a good match? Like, on the first date.

There is.

In fact, there’s ONE THING that determines, more than anything else, if real romance is possible.

If this one thing happens on a first date, there’s potential. If it doesn’t, don’t wait for him to ask you to get out of his cat’s chair. Just move on.

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Tap Into Authenticity for Romantic Bliss

How To Have Romantic BlissHave you ever been happy and miserable at the same time?

I was talking to a client the other day. From outward appearances, she’s got it made. She has an amazing job, she’s in good shape, and the guy she’s dating is a real catch. She looks happy practically all the time.

But sometimes it’s an act.

As we dug into things, we realized that a lot of her occasional dissatisfaction has to do with her relationship.

Her man takes her on amazing dates. They have all kinds of fun. She really likes him. But she doesn’t feel like it’s okay to show him the not-happy side of herself.

“Just the other day we had dinner,” she told me. “We were at this romantic little café. The food was great. But work was hard that day and I wanted to vent. I just . . . didn’t feel like it would be okay. I don’t want to be all negative around him. So I stuffed it down and smiled.

“Then I went home and cried.”

I don’t think she’s alone in that experience.

Students of my relationship courses know that men like women with positive energy. But that doesn’t mean you have to be upbeat every waking minute. That wouldn’t be very authentic at all, and men like authenticity a lot, too.

Not only are men NOT looking for someone who’s giddy all the time, but acting like you’re constantly bursting with joy can leave you drained and miserable.

That’s because happiness is linked to authenticity. We’re happiest when we’re true to ourselves—even if that means sometimes being upset, angry or sad.

Here’s what that means for your relationship. You’ll feel the highest levels of intimacy and romantic satisfaction when you feel free to share how you really feel.

Being lovey-dovey all the time won’t make you feel good. Being REAL is the key.

If you’re interested in authenticity in your relationship, keep reading. I’ve got three powerful tips for incorporating genuine, transparent communication into dating.

Follow these suggestions and you’ll definitely feel more happiness when you’re around your guy. Continue reading








The Art of Avoiding Creeps & Encouraging Good Guys

The Art of Avoiding Creeps & Encouraging Good GuysMia had a unique problem.

“The only guys who talk to me are the creepy ones,” she told me. “I try to end it pretty quick, but it’s getting frustrating. What am I, a creep magnet?”

“What’s a creep, exactly?” I asked her.

She gave me a look. “You know. A weirdo. Someone who approaches me somewhere completely inappropriate, like a convenience store, and then won’t leave me alone even when I brush him off.”

I nodded.

“The first thing you need to know is that it’s not you. You’re not sending any subliminal signals that only creeps can decode.”

“Seriously?” Mia sighed in relief.

“Seriously.”

I’m often struck by how easy it is to take other people’s behavior personally. You might think that you did something to make someone act a certain way, when really it had nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

Here’s an example. A man sees a woman sitting alone at a café table, reading. She’s pretty, she’s not wearing a ring, and she seems sad. He gathers up his courage and walks past her table. “Looks like an interesting book there,” he remarks.

She snaps the book shut. “Not interested,” she says curtly as she gathers up her things. She’s out the door before he’s had the chance to blink.

What happened?

In his mind, he just failed. There must be something so wrong with him that a normal, otherwise friendly woman would reject him out of hand.

But maybe how she responded had more to do with her than him. Maybe she’d just lost her job. Maybe she’d already been approached by two other guys that morning and she’d had enough. Maybe she was in no mood for company. Who knows?

What we do know is that men and women don’t always know what’s going through each other’s minds. They make assumptions. And sometimes, those assumptions are wrong.

“The next thing you need to know,” I told Mia, “is something about what it’s like to be a man.”

Although men and women are equals in most areas of life, gender roles are alive and kicking in dating. Men are still supposed to make the first move. That’s their job.

It’s tough. Guys who put themselves out there must get used to rejection. It comes with the territory. Some men do better than others. They can read a woman’s signals and sense whether she’s open to being approached.

But not all men can.

Some men can’t read women at all. Because they’re not sure why some women say yes and other women say no, they approach every woman they can. They treat it as a numbers game.

Think of these guys as spammers. They strike up conversations anywhere, anytime, in the hope they’ll get a bite. They don’t just target women like Mia. As long as a woman is female, she’s fair game.

So what do you do when you get targeted by a spammer?

And how do you distinguish between him and a genuinely good guy hoping to make a connection?

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The Negativity Bias That Brings Down Relationships

Why Relationships Go BadHe says you look beautiful tonight…

But all you can remember is the last time you wore this outfit and the rude comment he made.

He says he’s never loved you more than he does right now…

But all you can remember is that time you argued and he said he regretted ever meeting you.

It’s hard to forget hurtful words.

You start to wonder what’s really true. Was he telling the truth when he said you looked beautiful … or when he made that awful comment? Was he telling the truth when he said he loved you … or when he said he regretted ever meeting you?

Does he ever tell you the truth, you wonder, or does he just say what you want to hear?

That line of thinking can drive you crazy.

But it’s not just you. We ALL do it.

Human brains latch onto negative experiences. Our brains assign much greater importance to one cruel comment than a dozen compliments. This “negativity bias” is part of our programming.

And it can sabotage relationships unless you’re onto it.

In a minute, I’m going to show you a technique that will help you break free, but first try this exercise to see whether the negativity bias is at work in your love life.

Take a moment to select a relationship from your past. Now, try to think of as many special, beautiful moments from that relationship as you can.

Next, try to recall a few awful, terrible moments from that relationship.

Which did you find easier:

Coming up with good memories or bad memories?

If you’re like most people, the bad memories were easier to remember by far.

There’s a reason for that, and it dates back to the dawn of human history.

Our ancestors needed to remember which tribes were hostile, which regions were dangerous, and which plants made them sick. It was more important not to get killed than to have a good time. Those who kept their attention firmly focused on avoiding bad things were rewarded with survival.

That strategy works. You use it all the time without realizing it.

Maybe you keep your purse close to your body because you once had it stolen. Maybe you obsessively check the fluid levels in your car because you once wrecked your engine. And of course you refuse to date anyone who reminds you of THAT ex-boyfriend.

Your negativity bias helps keep you safe.

But it isn’t really your friend. It’s more like a buggy software program.

Sometimes it works to protect you from harm, which is great.

But other times it malfunctions. It tells you to remember every rude comment or small disappointment. It tells you that even one rejection is too many; you should just give up dating and spare yourself the pain.

Soon, your life becomes a series of one hurtful experience after another. There’s always something to be upset about. Someone is always cutting you down. You don’t notice the good stuff, because you’re paying so much attention to the bad stuff.

Who wants to live that way?

You can’t turn off the negativity bias, but you can outsmart it.  Continue reading








When You’re Tired of Waiting on His Promises

When You’re Tired of Waiting on His PromisesHas this ever happened to you?

He swears he’s in love with you. He wants you to have a future together. He makes a promise to you.

But…

He’ll delays telling his friends you’re his girlfriend, promising to do so when the timing is better.

He’ll find a place for the two of you to live together as soon as his lease runs out. He’ll propose as soon as he has the money for a ring.

So many promises. So much hope.

Weeks pass. You mention his promises. He swears to you that he’s onto it. You just have to be patient.

Months pass. You mention his promises. He tells you to stop nagging him. You need to trust him.

A year passes. You stop mentioning his promises. Somewhere deep inside, you know the truth. He never intended to live up to his word.

When you’re in that situation, it’s hard to know what to do. You want to believe him so much. This is the man you want a future with, after all.

But you can’t deny the evidence. You can see that he’s done nothing.

Living in limbo is painful. You want to move forward, but he’s holding back. You don’t know why, and you’re not sure if you want to know why. You may learn something you wish you’d never learned.

When a man’s words don’t match his actions, you have a few options:

  1. You can give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s being honest with you about the timing not being right, or not having the money. You can be the better person. You can be patient.
  2. You can push a little harder. Maybe he’s procrastinating. Maybe he’s forgotten about the promise he made. Surely he’ll appreciate a little reminder. Or two. Or three.
  3. You can apply a little leverage. You can give him some space and see if that lights a fire under him. Or you can issue an ultimatum: either he lives up to his promises or he loses you.
  4. You can put the truth on the line. You don’t know why he’s not taking action on what he promised you. So ask him. Tell him your fears. Tell him you’re worried that he made that promise just to make you happy. Watch his face closely. Ask your gut what it thinks.

Here’s what I think of each of those options. I’ll finish by telling you what I’d recommend, and why it will bring you closer than ever.

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Should You Settle?

how to know if you are settling for less“Should I hold out for something better?

Or should I settle for what I’ve got?”

I’ve heard that question so many times. Mostly from women who are just starting relationships, but sometimes I hear it from women who are about to walk down the aisle.

For those women, asking that question takes great courage. It opens up the possibility of disrupting their entire life. And yet they can’t live without knowing:

Is this guy the best I’m going to get? Or is there someone else out there for me?

It’s an honest question. You want to know you got the best deal possible, so to speak.

Maybe this guy isn’t your soulmate. Maybe, if you’d just waited another year or tried online dating one more time, you’d have found your real soulmate. The one who’s exactly like you in all the ways that matter. The one who doesn’t pick his nose or ignore you when the game is on. The one who sweeps you off your feet.

Other women have boyfriends like that. You can tell by their smile, like a cat that’s got the cream. You just know they get treated like a queen.

Why doesn’t your guy treat you like that?

Is it time to trade up?

Let’s find out. Here are the 4 questions I would ask.

  1. How committed is your relationship?

If you start to have second thoughts when you’re dating someone, then pay attention to what your intuition is telling you. When doubts are there from the beginning, they’re a sign that something isn’t quite right.

However, if you’re married or in a long-term committed relationship, then those second thoughts aren’t anything to be scared of. They’re bringing you a message. Your relationship needs more tender loving care.

It’s challenging to live with one person for the rest of your life. You see all his flaws and imperfections, and he sees yours. Of course you’re going to wonder if some mythical Prince Charming exists. It’s appealing to imagine a life where you waltz through every day in perfect harmony with the love of your life.

In real life, we’re flawed and imperfect. We hurt each other accidentally. We’re not always as careful with one another’s feelings as we could be.

Instead of fantasizing about Prince Charming, deal with those difficult feelings. Wade through the mud with him. What’s missing from your relationship? What aren’t you telling one another? What aren’t you admitting to yourself? How can you support each other better?

how to know if you are settling for lessIt’s better to have an imperfect relationship where you can talk, than a seemingly perfect relationship where you’re not allowed to mention the tough stuff.  

Here’s the next question you should be asking…

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The Power of Presence to Banish Nervous Habits

how to overcome nervous habitsUncontrollable giggling.

Babbling.

Nervous gestures.

You never do anything like that …. do you? 😉

Every one of us acts in a very specific way when we get nervous.

People who know us can tell. No matter how hard we try to come across as calm, cool, and collected, our unconscious habits give us away.

Maybe we talk too loud. Or too fast.

Maybe we pace. Tap one foot. Can’t stand still.

Or maybe we sweat. Not just a fresh sheen of perspiration, either. We’re talking visible drops of sweat.  

It would be nice if we could turn off our nervous habits at will. “Oops, I’m sweating! Okay, armpits, turn off the tap.”

But we can’t. Nervous habits don’t listen.

And we live in fear that someone will notice.

What if it happens with someone you really like? What if it happens on a date? What if it happens with the person you want most to impress in the entire world?

You can imagine the frown. The revulsion. The quick end to the conversation. The horrible feeling of let-down.

But that doesn’t have to happen.

You actually DO have control over your nervous responses.

Your heart doesn’t have to start racing. You don’t have to panic. You can stay relaxed and be yourself in any encounter, no matter how gorgeous he is.

The key is what experts call presence.

Presence is one of the foundations of charisma. It’s what makes a person stand out in a crowd.

how to overcome nervous habitsWhile everyone else is focusing on their phone or hurrying to get where they need to go, the present person strolls in complete confidence, taking in every nuance of his or her surroundings, open to synchronistic encounters.

When you’re present, you’re in the now. You’re not lost in your thoughts or your fears or your worries. You’re in your body. You’re grounded.

That’s important, because one of the things that happens when you get nervous is that your mind takes over. It goes into protection mode, blocking out everything but the urgent situation at hand.

Your sympathetic nervous system kicks in, preparing you to fight or flee. You become oblivious to everything but your performance … a performance that now feels like a disaster.

Here’s how to stop the cycle.

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How Invalidation Can Tear Apart Your Relationship—And What to Do about It

the importance of validation in relationshipsJanelle was telling me about a recent argument with her boyfriend.

“I can’t get the back door unlocked.”

She laughed at my blank expression.

“Look, I know it doesn’t sound like a relationship issue, but it has become one.  The lock jams several times each week. Nothing I can do will get it to open.”

“And how does that relate to your relationship?” I asked curiously.

“He doesn’t believe me!” This time, her laughter had a hysterical edge. “He says I’m not doing it right. It always works for him.”

She sniffed. To my surprise, I saw tears starting to form in her eyes. She rubbed them away with the back of her hand.

Was this really about a door … or was it something else?

To an outsider, this looks like a simple difference in opinion. He thinks she’s not opening the door right; she thinks it’s genuinely jammed.

But some things aren’t a matter of opinion.

Your personal experience is one of them.

Few things are more frustrating than trying to communicate something important to your partner … only to be told it’s all in your head.

That’s why validation should be a part of every healthy relationship.

When you validate your partner, you recognize that his thoughts, beliefs and perspectives are valid, regardless of whether you share his view or even understand it.

Janelle’s boyfriend didn’t understand why she felt the door was jamming. Because his experience wasn’t the same as her experience, he jumped to the conclusion that her experience was invalid.

That’s the exact opposite of what good partners do.

He could have listened to her. He could have found out more. He could have investigated this issue. Instead, he dismissed something that was clearly upsetting her.

No one has the right to tell you what your experience should have been. You are the only authority on what happens to you. If someone tells you they know what’s going through your head better than you do—and they’re not joking—run.

the importance of validation in relationshipsAfter that incident with her boyfriend, Janelle stopped going to him when she needed help. She felt shamed for reaching out and stung by his presumption of superiority. If she were only more like him, she thought, she wouldn’t be having this problem. She should be more like a man rather than a helpless woman, incapable of opening a door.

Janelle and her boyfriend needed to learn how to validate each other—fast.

Or they’d continue growing apart, until they no longer had a relationship at all.

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Watch Out for Relationship Burnout

avoiding relationship burnoutWhen you want something—a relationship, a job, a goal—you put your all into it.

You don’t stop. You keep going until you’ve got what you wanted.

That should be good, right? It means you’re focused. Dedicated. An achiever.

But it also puts you in danger.

Working too hard on anything puts you at risk of burnout. And that includes relationships.

Relationship burnout happens when you put 110% into your love life.

You’re so focused on getting a date or strengthening your relationship that you miss the big picture. Your world revolves around your love life. If you’re feeling close and connected, you want to feel even closer and more connected. If you’re going through a rough patch, your relationship stays on your mind until you’ve figured out how to fix it.

And why not?

Surely relationships deserve that kind of attention.

If you love someone, you want to give him everything. If you don’t have someone yet, then surely you shouldn’t rest until you do.

But a funny thing happens when you focus on something to the exclusion of everything else:

avoiding relationship burnout

You start to hate it.

Even if it’s something you love, it consumes your attention until it becomes a source of great frustration.

A friend of mine never does online dating for more than a few months at a time. She says that she starts to hate it if she does it for any longer. Instead of seeing it as something fun, it becomes a chore. That resentment starts to bleed through into how she responds to the men who contact her.

So, for their sake as well as hers, she keeps her dips into the online dating pool short and sweet.

When I suggest this approach to other women, they counter it with, “But what if I miss out on someone great because I’m not online?”

It’s true. If you take a break—whether it’s a break from online dating or a break from an intense relationship—you do run the risk of missing out.

You might miss out on some extra fun you might have had otherwise.

But it’s worth it, and here’s why.

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If You Don’t Need a Man, Can You Still Rely on Him

how to stop being codependent“I’m never going to look for a man to complete me again,” Janice vowed. “No more relying on men. I declare my own independence.”

I smiled warmly at Janice’s enthusiasm. She’d done a lot of work on herself in the past year. She knew she didn’t want any more codependent relationships. She was done with trying to save her romantic partners.

“That’s a good goal for you,” I told her, “but it’s just a stepping stone. Your ultimate goal is interdependence.”

Janice looked confused. “I thought dependence was bad.”

“Interdependence is something different,” I explained. “It’s when you rely on one another, but you don’t need each other.”

At times like these, I wish the language of psychology was a bit clearer. Everyone knows the difference between independence and dependence, but not as many people are familiar with terms like codependence and interdependence.

If your aim is a healthy, long-lasting relationship, then understanding the subtle differences in those concepts can help you a lot.

As Janice discovered, you don’t need a man to complete you, but it’s great to find a man to complement you. I’ll show you how in a minute.

First, let’s look at what happens when you need a man to complete you.

The technical term is codependence. A codependent relationship is one where you need your partner to need you in order to feel whole. You can’t be yourself without him. If your relationship ended, you’d feel lost.

how to stop being codependentIn codependent relationships, you use one another to get your needs met. Perhaps you need someone to take care of, and he likes being taken care of. Perhaps he’s an introvert, and he needs an extroverted partner to bring him out of his bubble.

Being needed feels good. That’s why Janice kept choosing romantic partners who needed her. One was hopeless with money and relied on her to keep the rent paid. Another drank too much and wouldn’t have held down a job if it weren’t for her constant support.

She felt safe in those relationships, because she knew he wouldn’t leave her if he couldn’t function without her. It was scary to contemplate dating someone who didn’t need her. He might not have any reason to stay.

But Janice was determined to change. She was going to become the least needy woman on the planet. She was sure that success lay in not needing men at all.

“After all,” she told me, “don’t men love independent women? I thought that was one of the things they looked for.”

“Independence is something to cultivate while you’re single, certainly,” I agreed. “But you have to be ready to step forward into interdependence once you start a relationship. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling ‘alone together.’”

“How do I do that?”

This is what I recommended.

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4 “Bad” Qualities to Look for in Guys You Date

Qualities to Look for in Guys You DateSo there you are. He just picked you up for the first date.

You make small talk as you head to the restaurant. Nothing deep. Just typical getting-to-know-you banter. It’s going well . . . and then IT happens.

Another car cuts him off.

He pumps the brakes, easily avoiding an accident. It’s no big deal, really. It wasn’t even much of a close call. But he unleashes a tirade of expletives that would make a sailor blush.

He’s cussing with more imagination and passion than you thought possible. You didn’t even know THAT word could be a noun, a verb, and an adjective in the same sentence. If it weren’t so shocking, it would be impressive.

That level of irrational anger probably is a red flag.  But here’s something interesting I recently read about people with colorful language.   

A recent study uncovered an unlikely correlation between swearing and honesty. According to researchers, there’s a potential upside to profanity. People who curse more tend to be more honest, as well.

Of course, a foul mouth can also be offensive. I’m not telling you to run right out and find a guy who relies on four-letter words for all his communication. But this does highlight an interesting paradox.

Some character traits we think of as “bad” could actually be signs of virtue.

I’ll take it one step further. There may be guys you’ve turned down because you saw something you think of as a flaw. But what if that negative was a positive in disguise?

Below are four “bad” qualities that just might signify something good about a potential suitor. If you come across a guy with one of these traits, get to know him a little better before sending the signal that you’re not interested.

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How to Get More Love in Your Life

How to Get More Love in Your LifeWe all want more love.

Not even getting the perfect relationship can guarantee you’ll have enough. Couples who’ve been together for years don’t always feel loved the way they’d hoped.

Getting more love in your life doesn’t start with changing your man, or even getting a man.

It starts with changing how you think about love.

Dr. Barbara De Angelis asks a provocative question in her latest book, The Choice for Love.

“What if we could be in love all the time?” she wonders.

What if love isn’t something you get … but rather something you are?

I’ve often been intrigued by the disconnect between how loved someone feels and the quality of their relationship.

I’ve met women who feel absolutely adored, despite the curt or even rude way they’re treated by their men.

I’ve also met women who feel emotionally abandoned, despite having a husband who cares deeply and tries his best.

Dr. De Angelis has an intriguing explanation for this.

She suggests that inside each of us is an ocean of love.

Sometimes this ocean rises up like a great wave, overwhelming us with joy. Sometimes the waters recede, leaving us feeling empty and alone.

The ebb and flow of our own emotions are what makes us feel loved sometimes and not at other times.

From this perspective, no one can give you love—or take it away. The love you feel is always your own.

This is such an empowering metaphor. It helps us visualize the truth that love is an inside job.

How to Get More Love in Your LifeIf you decide that you’re going to fall in love with your life, just as it is, then no one can stop you. So what if one particular man doesn’t return your affections? You still have an entire ocean of love inside you.

Your quest shifts from finding a relationship that will give you the love you don’t have … to finding out what causes that mysterious surge of love inside your heart.

So try this. Get curious about why you feel love at certain times and not others. Can you remember the last few times you felt that rush of love? What was happening? Who were you with? What were you thinking about?

To help you on your quest, here are 3 love triggers. They pave the way for an overwhelming sense of love in your heart—with or without a man.

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How to Deal with His (Insane) Expectations

dealing with men's expectationsThink about the last time you experienced really bad service at a restaurant.

Maybe it took forever to get a table. Or the food was cold when it arrived. Or your order was wrong.

Whatever the case, THE THING that made the experience negative was an unmet expectation.

Expectations are powerful. And the feeling of disappointment that comes with unmet expectations HURTS.

Literally.

When you feel disappointed, your dopamine levels drop like a rock. Neurologically, dopamine plays a big role in feeling good. If dopamine levels dip, that’s when emotional pain kicks in.

The implications for your relationships are huge.

Trust can’t survive in an environment of constant disappointment. Neither can intimacy. If either of you feels let down all the time, that’s not a good sign.

Good-bye happily ever after. Hello broken heart. You don’t want that.

But what about his crazy, unrealistic expectations? He’s a guy, after all. Some guys go into romance with pretty off-the-wall ideas about the way dating should play out.

Let’s take a quick look at three common male assumptions about women, and what you can do to deal with his (possibly insane) expectations.

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How Do You Know If He’s Bad for You?

how to know if you're in a bad relationshipEvery group of friends has one:

The girl who doesn’t see the warning signs about the guy she’s with.

She’s so happy to be with him that you can’t say anything. You exchange concerned glances with other friends, but you know the rules. It’s not your place to comment.

Besides, maybe you don’t know him as well as she does. There must be something good about him.

But still…

You’re just waiting for the fall. For the day she calls you up and tells you she needs you to come over right away, because something REALLY bad has happened. You’re going to be there for her when that day comes. And then you’re finally going to tell her the truth about what you knew all along.

What you never expected was this phone call…

“Guess what?!” Her voice is the most excited you’ve ever heard. “We’re getting married!”

Whether a relationship is healthy or not doesn’t matter to someone in love.

When you love someone, all you know is that you want to be with him. You want to make it work no matter what. If things get hard, you work harder. Obstacles only strengthen your resolve.

It’s not my job to tell people whether they should split up or stay together. What I think of someone’s relationship isn’t as important as what they think of their relationship. But I do see unhealthy relationships. It’s hard not to notice sometimes.

Here are 3 tipoffs that can help you recognize a relationship that’s not good for you.

  1. You may be in a bad relationship if…
    Your self-esteem has been going up and down a lot.

Some relationships lift us up. They make us feel stronger, happier, and better able to take on the world.

Other relationships lift us up only to dash us down. They’re a roller coaster of emotion.

Rocky relationships can consume your life. You hang in there, because the good times are SO good. You keep hoping you’ll find a way to make it work, so you can live happily ever after.

There’s a lot of satisfaction in fighting to keep the relationship together and make him happy. The harder you work on your relationship, the more committed you feel. You can’t give up now. Not after how much effort you’ve put in.

But if the thought of splitting up fills you with terror, you might want to ask whether it’s love or fear keeping you in the relationship.

  1. You may be in a bad relationship if…
    You’ve started doubting yourself more since you’ve been with him.

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The Secret to Lasting Happiness

The Secret to Lasting HappinessI had the good fortune of meeting a lovely elderly woman who was celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary. Of course I had to ask:

“What’s the secret to staying happily married as long as you two?”

“Secret?” She laughed. “There’s no secret. A happy marriage is made up of two happy people. We’re just happy people, I guess.”

From the sparkle in her eyes and the laugh lines etched into her skin, I could see the truth of her statement.

As I excused myself to let the lineup of well-wishers behind me have their turn, I smiled to myself at what she’d said. Just be happy. How easy it sounded!

But then the face of a client I’d spoken to earlier in the week flashed before me.

This woman’s face was young and smooth, but her eyes were red from crying. She was desperate to know how to create happiness in her relationship.

“I don’t know what to do to make him happy. I’ve tried and I’ve tried. It would be so different if he made an effort, too. If he tried to make me happy, just a little bit. But I do everything, and he does nothing.”

She believed what most people believe:

That the point of relationships is to make each other happy.

But is it?

What if we’ve got it all wrong?

Research shows the boost in happiness provided by falling in love and getting married doesn’t last. About two years after the wedding, the couple adapts to their new circumstances. They go back to feeling just about as happy as they used to feel.

We’ve all got a baseline level of happiness. That friend of yours who’s always happy will probably wear that smile until the end of her life, even should some misfortune befall her. That friend of yours who’s never happy will probably always be a bit of a grump, even if she wins the lottery.

You can’t shift your baseline level of happiness by winning a fortune or marrying your dream man. It’s a function of your outlook, not your external circumstances.

Or, as I explain it:

Happiness isn’t what you have. Happiness is how you see the world.

So, when a client comes to my office expecting her partner to make her happy—or expecting to be able to make him happy—I have my doubts.

I explain that there’s a better goal than making your partner happy. In fact, if you pursue this goal, you’ll have a happier relationship than if you spent all your time trying to make your partner happy.

Want to know what it is?

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The Mistake We All Make When Interpreting Other People’s Actions

Properly Interpreting People’s ActionsTell me if this sounds familiar.

You’re excited to see your guy. He walks in the door, gives you a quick peck on the cheek, and…

…hardly notices the fact that you’re absolutely beaming at the sight of him.

Immediately, you’re wondering what gives. Does he not like the new outfit? Geez, you were sure he’d be a fan. Or is he just being a jerk? I mean, how hard is it to give you an enthusiastic greeting?

But what if his lack of excitement has nothing to do with you?

I’m talking about a phenomenon called “Fundamental Attribution Error.” Fundamental Attribution Error is defined as our “tendency to give personality-based explanations for other peoples’ behavior more weight than situational factors.”

In other words, we tend to assume the way people treat us is a reflection of how they feel about us. But much of the time, that assumption is dead wrong.

In the example above, maybe your guy seems distracted because he’s distracted. After all, there’s a lot of other stuff going on in his life.

That doesn’t mean you’re not important to him. It just means you’re not always the center of his universe.

And even though that makes perfect sense, Fundamental Attribution Error is incredibly common. Practically everyone does it. Not only that, but it’s almost impossible to avoid.

So how do you deal with those moments when Fundamental Attribution Error kicks in?

You can outwit your own knee-jerk assumptions by doing just two things.

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What Men Need More than Pep Talks When Feeling Stressed

how to help your man when he's stressed outMany of the women I know can give a motivational speech better than any keynote speaker.

If you’re having a tough time, these women are the ones you want by your side.

They’re supportive, encouraging, and positive. When they see that someone is feeling down, they make it their job to bring that person back up again.

I think that’s wonderful. I value having people like that in my life.

But I’m also aware that their supportive nature can backfire on them … particularly in romantic relationships.

Men don’t always appreciate motivational speeches. They don’t necessarily want help to feel better. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need a woman’s support.

In a minute, I’ll share with you an extremely effective way to help the man in your life when he’s going through a tough time.

But first, let’s look at why men and women respond to support so differently.

We live in a world where everyone is supposed to be happy and having fun all the time. Social media captures the highlights of people’s lives.  Which makes us feel bad when we compare our lives to their seemingly exciting lives, full of funny and interesting posts.

Things do get hard at times. But, because it’s not necessarily socially appropriate to share those things, most people don’t advertise what they’re going through.

As a woman, you want to know what your friends are going through so you can be there for them. You don’t want them to hide it from you. It would feel as if they’re shutting you out.

But, if your friend is a man, think twice.

Men and women have very different ways of dealing with stress.

Researchers have found that men are more likely to fight or flee. This can mean getting argumentative with you just because things are going bad at work, or withdrawing to his man cave and communicating only with grunts.

Women are more likely to tend and befriend. Talking it through and engaging in healthy self-care activities (yes, shopping counts) can get a woman through most things.

The stage is set for trouble when a woman assumes that “tend and befriend” is the best stress-management strategy for everyone, including her man.

She knows something is wrong, but he won’t talk to her. He keeps finding excuses to avoid spending time with her.

When she reaches out to help, only to be met by a wall of male resistance, she feels hurt. And then she starts getting mad.

how to help your man when he's stressed outWho does he think he is? Why get into a relationship in the first place if you’re not going to talk to each other? She knows he’s withholding something, and that’s not okay. Honesty is the foundation of a good relationship.

Fair enough. Now let’s see what he’s thinking.

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Getting What You Want From Your Guy

Getting What You Want From Your GuyTell me if you’ve heard this one.

There’s an old metaphor people sometimes use to describe relationships. They say relationships are like a checking account.

You make deposits when you do something nice or meaningful for your man. When you need something from him, that’s like making a withdrawal. It’s a simple analogy that mostly works.

Mostly. But here’s the problem with it.

People don’t really keep tabs on how often you do something nice for them. In fact, people are more likely to remember negative encounters than positive ones!

That’s not great news if you’re hoping a sweet gesture today will win you a favor tomorrow.

But fear not. There’s another way to get your guy to do what you want.

In a classic study dating all the way back to the 1970’s, researchers uncovered a strategy that consistently motivates others to fulfill YOUR requests.

No, it’s not magic. It’s not manipulation, either. It’s something far more simple. Plus, you can put this strategy to work in your relationship today.

If you want something from your partner, give him a REASON to act.

I know. It sounds insanely obvious. In fact, you’ve probably tried variations of this approach, yourself. But there are a couple of secrets to making it work every time.

The key is a two-prong approach – one thing you should avoid, and one thing you should include.

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How to Have All the Romance and None of the Regret

how to live without regretsDo you have any relationship regrets? Things you said or did you wish you could take back? Things you didn’t do that you wish you had?

You might think, “Well sure, James. Most of us do.” And you’d be right…as long as you take into account a surprising statistic.

On average, women are roughly two times more likely to have romantic regrets than men.[i] (In contrast, men tend to have more work-related regrets.)

And what’s really fascinating is that the longest lasting, most powerful romantic regrets are not about mistakes. They’re about missed opportunities.

Which means you’re more likely to kick yourself for NOT flirting with the cute guy at Starbucks than for making a fool of yourself if you do.

It’s all about risk. Short-term risks, like embarrassment at a failed flirting attempt, carry more weight in the moment than long-term risks, like regret. Fear of failure can be a powerful motivator.

But I tend to agree with Lucille Ball who famously said, “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

At the end of the day or the end of the decade, wouldn’t you rather look back and know you were daring enough to go for it? Even if you don’t always succeed, wouldn’t it be better to regret the things you tried and failed than to regret the things you were too afraid to try?

If so, then you’re ready for a crash course in regret-free romance. Below is a three-step plan to help you carpe that diem.

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Getting Your Romance In Alignment with the Rest of Your Life

how to find the right relationshipHave you ever given thought to how much influence your man has over your life? Both day-to-day happiness, and your overall direction?

His influence is profound.

If you were a fan of the TV show The Office, you’ve seen a fictional version of this in action. By the end of the series, Jim and Pam were married and had kids. But they started as friends, and Pam was engaged to one of the guys who worked in the warehouse.

Pam was the receptionist back then, though she dreamed of a career in graphic design.

But her former fiancé wasn’t supportive of her artistic interests. He wasn’t invested in planning (or even setting a date for) the wedding, either. In fact, Pam was more of an accessory in his life than a focal point.

And it showed. She didn’t pursue any of her dreams. Her boyfriend was a HUGE factor.

The people you surround yourself with can raise you up or pull you down. In fact, recent research shows that even the person you sit next to at work can affect your performance!

Think about how much more significant your partner is.

You need a man who fits with the rest of your life. I’m talking about romance that aligns with everything else that matters to you.

If you can find alignment in the three areas below, you’ll be happier, healthier, and much more likely to have the kind of love you want.

This is the stuff of lasting romance…

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What to Do When Your Relationship Gets Sick

how to solve relationship problemsImagine this scenario.

You wake up one morning feeling kind of crummy. You’ve got a slight fever, and your throat feels like sandpaper. Didn’t someone at the office have strep last week?

Crap.

You go to your doctor, fully expecting him to diagnose you with the strep throat. Because the throat-swab came back positive for Strep.

But he doesn’t. Instead, he tells you to take a cold shower for the fever, and he recommends mints to ease the pain in your throat.

Mints?! You need antibiotics for a bacterial infection like strep!

If that happened, your doctor would just be treating the symptoms without ever addressing the underlying cause. Crazy, right?

And yet, we do the same thing in relationships all the time.

When things are off in a relationship, it’s exhausting. You’ll feel drained and emotionally raw, like a romantic version of the strep. It sucks.

And it won’t get better if you just treat the symptoms.

Treating the symptoms of a “relationship bug” can take on many different forms. You might pamper yourself with a shopping splurge. Or respond to his frustrating behavior with some passive-aggressive jabs. Or even disconnect emotionally by avoiding real conversation and intimate moments.

The relationship will stay sick, and you’ll only feel marginally better. Rather than just treating the symptoms, why not deal with the disease?

I have three suggestions for getting over a relationship ailment.[i] If you’re feeling fatigued in your current romance, the cure is likely in one of these three places.

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Don’t Miss this “Accidental” Kind of Romance

how to find romanceIf this has ever happened to you, you know how frustrating it is.

You’re single. You’re not happy about it. You lament to a friend, someone who is NOT single, and she smiles benevolently.

Then she says the one thing all single people hate to hear: “Maybe if you stop looking for love, you’ll find it.”

Talk about rage-inducing advice. And yet, maybe there’s something there.

Consider this. The guy who invented the microwave oven was actually working on military radar equipment when he accidentally melted some candy in his pocket.[i] Super Glue didn’t start out as a successful adhesive, but as a failed gun part.[ii] And Play-Doh was originally intended to be a cleaning product![iii]

In each case, someone realized what they’d found by mistake was actually a priceless discovery.

What if something like that is happening in your love life? What if you miss an unexpected kind of romance because you’re too busy looking for something else?

The trick isn’t to stop looking for love, no matter what a well-meaning friend may have told you. Rather, the trick is to look for love with eyes wide open, ready to find it wherever and however it pops up.

And even after you’ve found love, don’t stop looking for it.  Because some of the most powerful forms of love are “discovered” only after you become a couple.

I have two strategies for you. One for when you’re single, and one for when you’re dating. Used together, these tips will ensure that you don’t miss out on something amazing.

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The Mistake Everyone Makes When Moving Their Relationship Forward

The Mistake Everyone Makes When Moving Their Relationship ForwardHere’s how relationships are supposed to go:

Meet. Date. Fall in love. Become official. Spend most of your free time together. Get engaged. Get married. Have kids. Live happily ever after.

When you follow the timeline, you know exactly what comes next.

Are you falling in love? Then the next step is to become official. He introduces you as his girlfriend. You change your social media status to “In a relationship.”

Are you together all the time? Then the next step is to get engaged. You watch for signs he’s hiding a large purchase from you, the jewelry store receipt itself if you’re lucky.

You rate your relationships based on where you are in the timeline.

If you’re just dating, you want to be exclusive. If you’re in a relationship, you want to talk about marriage. If you’re stuck in any one stage for too long, you get frustrated. You want to reach the next milestone.

That process is so familiar to us that we take it for granted.

But seeing relationships as a series of goals, each moving you closer to your ultimate destination of happily-ever-after, can backfire.

Where a relationship is in the timeline says little about where it is in terms of what really matters: intimacy, friendship, trust, and respect. Those qualities are what gets you to happily-ever-after, not the wedding ring.

I think back to the Zen proverb that goes:

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

The proverb warns against focusing too much on the end goal. Whether you’re enlightened or not, you still need fuel to cook and water to drink.

These days, that proverb might look more like this:

 “Before marriage, wash dishes, do laundry.
After marriage, wash dishes, do laundry.”

Regardless of whether you’re wearing a wedding ring, the activities that consume your time remain the same. You still have to go to work, buy groceries, keep the house clean, and get a good night’s sleep. Marriage won’t change that.

So, instead of setting your sights on reaching that next relationship goal, set your sights on building a good relationship. When you two are best friends as well as lovers, your relationship moves forward effortlessly.

But there’s a problem with good relationships…

There’s no extra social status associated with being in a healthy relationship. Nothing to “check off” to show you’ve arrived.

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When Date Night Becomes Dull, Do This

When Date Night Becomes Dull, Do This - Boring Date NightsRemember how excited you were about that first date?

You got ready with butterflies in your stomach. Primping and prepping to perfection. You agonized over your outfit. It was nerve-wracking and fun at the same time. Anticipation filled the air.

Now, compare that to “date night” when you’ve been with a guy for a long time. Not quite the same, is it?

Date nights aren’t a bad idea. Given how busy we are, it’s a good thing to set aside routine times specifically for your relationship. But it’s not good if that time has become kind of ho-hum.

And that’s the problem with date nights. They’re repetitive. They DO become ho-hum.

Which works against your relationship.

Here’s where some science comes in handy. Recently, researchers from the University of Georgia looked into why repetitive tasks tend to get boring. They found that repetition isn’t what kills the excitement.

Say you go out tonight. While you’re out, you find yourself thinking, “Oh good. Dinner and a movie. Again. And it’ll be the same thing next week…”

THAT. The expectation that future situations will be just like your current experience will actually make the current experience less exciting. [i]

But not to fear. If you find yourself in a date night rut, there are a couple of things you can do about it.

One is a quick fix you can use right now, and the other will make date nights better for years to come.

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When It’s Time for a Romantic Upgrade

When It’s Time for a Romantic UpgradeI 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.

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How to Go From Casual Dating to a Serious Relationship

How to Go From Casual Dating to a Serious RelationshipDo 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.

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Restore the Closeness with Repair Attempts

Restore the Closeness with Repair Attempts - repair your relationshipYou’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 Dance of Intimacy

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.

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3 Ways to Let Him Know You Need Him Without Appearing Needy

3 Ways to Let Him Know You Need Him Without Appearing NeedyNeediness 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[1] 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.

Avoid appearing needyModern 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.

1. Talk about what you appreciate about men in general.

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The Weekend-Trigger: Renew Your Romance

The Weekend-Trigger: Renew Your RomanceYou 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?

You can.

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.

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How to Argue with Your Man—and Feel Better Afterward

How to Argue with Your Man—and Feel Better AfterwardIf 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.

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How to Make the Most of Weekends with Your Man

How to Make the Most of Weekends with Your ManDo 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.

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Stop Old Arguments from Wrecking Your Relationship Rhythm

Stop Old Arguments from Wrecking Your Relationship RhythmTry 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.

Silent Man - Relationship RhythmIn 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.

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A Simple Way to Spot Mr. Right

A Simple Way to Spot Mr. RightSo 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?

Live for Today, or Live for Tomorrow?

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.)

Choose Long-Term Happiness

When you’re deciding what to do, ask yourself: Feel good or future good?

How To Spot Mr. RightIs 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?

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When the Truth is a Lie

When the Truth is a LieWhat do you make of the following fun facts?[i]

  1. You could live the rest of your life without eating or drinking anything.
  2. Most people have more than the average number of legs.
  3. I’ve won as many Oscars as Glenn Close.

They feel a bit fishy, don’t they? And yet, every one of those statements is 100% true.

Technically.

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.

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How to Be the Drama-Free Girlfriend Guys Love

How to Be His Secret Obsession Drama-Free Girlfriend Guys LoveKathy’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:

Her relationships.

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.

Understand Your Man

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.

Be Irresistible - Drama-Free GirlfriendDrama 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.

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How to Get Over Your Ex Faster (and Move on to the Right Guy)

How to Get Over Your Ex Faster (and Move on to the Right Guy)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.

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The Simple Mind Hack that Can Change the Way You Date

The Simple Mind Hack that Can Change the Way You DateHow 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.

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You Really ARE Better Than Average

You Really ARE Better Than AverageCan 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.[1]

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?

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Their Secret Obsession: 5 Famous Men Who Were Romantically Obsessed with a Woman

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








“His Secret Obsession” Is the Key to James Bauer’s Relationship Course for Women

What is “his secret obsession”?

His Secret ObsessionWe 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








The Value in Harboring a Secret Obsession

a secret obsession - speed trapYou’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








How to Be More Attractive to Every Guy You Meet

How to Be More Attractive to Every Guy You MeetDo 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.

Be selfless.

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.

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How to Stop Falling for Your Own Tricks

How to Stop Falling for Your Own TricksHave 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.

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Go One Step Deeper than Good Communication

Go One Step Deeper than Good CommunicationIf 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.

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Three Ways “Fun Theory” Can Help Your Relationship Thrive

Three Ways "Fun Theory" Can Help Your Relationship ThriveHave 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.

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One Response to Survive and Thrive Under Criticism

how to respond to criticismKaren 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.”

What?

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.

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Get into His Heart by Learning Exactly How He Wants to Be Loved

how to love your man“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.

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Why You Should Hold Out for an Apology from Your Guy

how to accept an apologyYou 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.

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How to Avoid Online Relationship Drama

How to Avoid Online Relationship DramaHave 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.

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Does Your Relationship Get Enough Playtime

how to have a satisfying relationshipDo 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.

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Turn Toward Your Partner to Stay Connected

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?”? [BREAK POINT] Bids for connection can come at precisely the wrong time. When you’re busy, stressed, irritated, and frankly not in the mood. You’re not a bad person if you don’t respond. But you might want to pay attention to how often you turn away from his bids and how you do it. How you respond to his bids for connection—and how he responds to yours—has a measurable influence on whether your relationship will last. If you ignore each other’s bids for connection two thirds of the time, then you’re in the danger zone. There’s a very good chance you’ll split unless you change this pattern. On the other hand, if you make the effort nine times out of ten, then you’re in the golden zone. Your relationship is on solid ground. Those figures come from Dr. John Gottman, a psychologist and leader in the field of marital stability. He studies couples in crisis with the goal of being able to predict who will split and who will stay. Gottman found that there were two possible responses to bids for connection: turning toward or turning away. You can turn toward a bid for connection without having to drop what you’re doing. “I’d love to see that!” you shout over your shoulder. “Show me after dinner’s ready.” What you want to avoid doing is turning away. For example: “I’m cooking at the moment, can’t you see?” Or “What is it, another one of those dumb jokes?” Or completely ignoring him, knowing he’ll have forgotten it in a minute anyway. Even the strongest couples turn away from bids once in a while. Sometimes, it’s by accident. They don’t even notice that the other person has made a bid for connection until it’s too late. You’re sitting at the kitchen table writing out a to-do list for tomorrow when he walks in. “Hi, honey!” you say. “Gosh, it’s cold out,” he responds, unwinding his scarf from around his neck. “I wonder what the best way to get warmed up would be.” You’re so busy thinking that you don’t even really hear him, let alone catch that mischievous glance he just gave you. We all miss bids sometimes. In strong relationships, the other person will repeat the bid until we finally hear it. But in rocky relationships, a missed bid feels like rejection. So, do your best to pay attention to those opportunities for connection. Watching that silly YouTube clip he wants to show you may not feel much like relationship building, but it is. Connection is made in those little moments.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?”?
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Use Moments of Awkward Silence for a Surprising Advantage with Men

how to deal with awkward silenceWhat 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.

Pause.

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?

Pause.

WOMAN: You know, for fun. Or work. Or, just, whatever.

Pause.

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.

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How “Instant Jealousy” Works

How “how to stop being jealousHave 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.

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How to Be More Likeable… by Admitting to Embarrassing Truths

How to Be More LikeableTwo 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…

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How to Tell if He’s Just Fishing

how to tell if he's not interestedIt 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?

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5 Questions that Create Connection

how to create a connectionHow 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?[1]

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.

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Want A Fairytale Relationship? Then Borrow This Simple Idea

Fairytale RelationshipCinderella 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.

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How Excuses Reveal Hidden Relationship Problems

relationship excusesExcuses 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.

Relationship 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.

  1. DO I SOUND LIKE A BROKEN RECORD?
  2. IS THERE ANYTHING UNDERNEATH THIS EXCUSE?

Let me show you why these two questions will send your relationship in the right direction.

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Discover What Jealousy Can Teach You

learning from jealousyImagine:

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.

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How to Get a Guy to Like You FAST

How to Get a Guy to Like You FASTHow 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.

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How to Deal With That ONE THING That’s Not Working In Your Relationship

dealing with relationship problemsFill 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]

That’s dead-on.

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.

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Why He Can’t Make You Happy (That’s Your Job)

Why He Can’t Make You HappyA 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?

Maybe.

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.

Weird, right?

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.”[1]

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.
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This Rage Reset Button Saves Good Relationships

How To Deal With Anger In RelationshipsWhen 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.

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Eating Healthy When You’re Dating a Fast Food Junkie

Eating Healthy When Your Partner Doesn'tHave 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]

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Get More Romantic Happiness by Putting in LESS Effort?

How To Not Worry About Your RelationshipAre 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[1], 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.[2]

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.

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Is He Interested? You Probably Wouldn’t Know… But You Can

How To Know If He's InterestedCan 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:

That’s it.

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.

How To Know If He's InterestedStanford 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.

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The Best Way to Find the Type of Guy You Really Want Online

how to find the right guy onlineThere’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.

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When You Don’t Feel Loved Enough in Your Relationship

don't feel loved enough in the relationshipMost 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.

And yet…

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.

  1. You’re better at giving love than receiving it.

True story:

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.
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Privacy vs. Secrecy – Where Is the Line?

Privacy vs. SecrecyLet’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.

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Don’t Take This Well-Meaning Advice

when to take adviceSometimes, people who want to make you happy give you really bad advice.

For example…

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, swoons 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.

  1. Look really attractive, and he’ll notice you.

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…

  1. Just tell him how you feel.

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.


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How to Use Mind Control to Get the Relationship You Want

How to Get the Relationship You WantHave 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.

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How to Use Smoke and Mirrors to Make Your Relationship Great

How To Have a Great RelationshipWhich 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.

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Don’t Let a Noisy Setting Kill Your Connection with a Guy

how to find a good place for a dateYou 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:

  1. Planning.
  2. Rerouting.
  3. Alleviating.

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.

how to find a good place for a dateThe 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.

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The Magical Moment That Tells Him You’re Like No One Else

How To Be Special To HimIt 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:

Stop.

Breathe.

And face up.

“I feel like I said the wrong thing there. That wasn’t my intention.”

Wow.

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.
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The Two Principles for Less Awkward Small Talk

how to make small talk less awkwardYou’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.

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Attract Your Perfect Mate Using Nothing More than Your Expectations

How To Attract The Perfect MateEveryone 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.
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The Real Secret to Getting Him to Open Up

How To Get Men To Open UpHave 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.

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How to Work 60 Hours a Week and Still Find Time for Dating

How To Find Time for DatingMaybe 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.

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The Surprising Secret to Long-Term Relationship Bliss

how to have a long term relationshipWhat 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.

how to have a long term relationshipForget 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.

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You’re Two Minutes Away from Being Happier Right Now

how to be happyYou’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?

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Finding “The One” Is Tough. Here’s One Place You Should Always Look.

How To Find 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.

  1. “But I don’t think of him that way.”That doesn’t mean you can’t. Do a test run. Try thinking of him in “that way” for two weeks. You might be surprised what happens.
  2. “If he liked me, he would have already made a move.”You don’t know that. Maybe he’s secretly pining for you but afraid to go for it.
  3. “I don’t want to make things weird between us.”Fair enough. If you try a relationship and it fails, things will likely always be different. But “different” doesn’t necessarily mean bad. That is, as long as you guys talk about it openly.

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.”

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The “Dating After 40” Fix

Dating After 40Women 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.

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How to Be More Approachable? Just Ask for Help

How to Be More ApproachableImagine 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.

How to Be More ApproachableMen 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.

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How To Handle Unwanted Attention From The Wrong Guy

How To Handle Unwanted Attention From The Wrong GuyYou’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.

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The “Food Method” for Building Rapport on Your First Date

How To Have A Good First DateHave 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.

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Taking Relationship Risks Makes You Smarter?

Taking Relationship RisksWhich 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…

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Why Alone Time Makes You Seem Less Desperate

How To Seem Less DesperateHave 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.

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How to be a Happier Couple

How to be a Happier CoupleHere’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.

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How to Know When It’s Time to Move On

How to Know When It’s Time to Move OnHow 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?

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What You Should Know Before Dating Someone from Work

What You Should Know Before Dating Someone from WorkWe’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[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.

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When to Keep a Secret from Your Man: One Guiding Principle

When to Keep a Secret from Your ManWhat’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.

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How to Recognize – and Avoid – Pick-Up Artists

How To Recognize Pickup ArtistsMost 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!

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What Makes a Perfect Match?

What Makes a Perfect Match?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.

You might:

  1. Ask your friends what they would do.
  2. Make a list of pros and cons.
  3. Imagine yourself ten years in the future and decide if you like what you see.

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:

  1. Whether his values are compatible with yours?
  2. Whether he wants the same things in life?
  3. Whether he meets your criteria for what you want in a life partner?
  4. Whether it’s a good relationship?

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.

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The Secret to Being Lucky in Love

The Secret to Being Lucky in LoveDo 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.

Here’s why.

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…

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How to Deal with Him when He’s Stressed Out

How to Deal with Him when He's Stressed OutYou 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?

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The Only Proven Way to Improve Your Relationship

How To Improve Your RelationshipDid 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.

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Do Men Go for Rebellious Women?

Do Men Go for Rebellious Women?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.

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Get Him to Invest in Your Relationship

How To Get Him To Invest In The RelationshipWomen 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.[1]

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:

  1. Satisfaction
  2. Investment
  3. Alternatives, and
  4. Commitment

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, [2] 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:

Satisfaction.

Life is too short to feel as if your soul is being suffocated, explained one woman.[3]

How To Get Him To Invest In The RelationshipAs 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.

Fair enough.

How to Use This for Enhanced Commitment

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Are You Lonely in Your Relationship?

Feeling Lonely In a RelationshipIt 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.

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The Best Way to Move on After a Breakup

How To Move On After a BreakupI’m going to start by apologizing. I’m asking you to think about something you probably don’t want to think about.

Breaking up.

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.[1] 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.

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How to Talk Politics with your Partner – (Even if You Disagree!)

How to Talk Politics with your PartnerYou 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.

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What to do When He Makes You Mad

What to do When He Makes You MadMaybe 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?

Not necessarily.

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.

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Get Him to Like You More by Letting Him “Win” You Over

How To Get Him to Like You MoreA 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?

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Beginners Guide to Setting Boundaries with Texting

Setting Boundaries with TextingPhone 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.

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The Golden Rule When Giving Gifts to Guys

Giving Gifts to GuysYou’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.

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Use the ‘Elevator Pitch’ to Enhance Your Charismatic Charm

how to enhance your charismaEver 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.

Awful, right?

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.

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Guys, humor, and your self-esteem

Self-esteem and RelationshipsImagine 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.

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Is it Okay if He’s Friends with His Ex?

Is it Okay if He’s Friends with His Ex?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]

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The Truth about Men, Women, and Talking

how to communicate with your partnerWhen 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?

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When He’s Not Putting Your Relationship First

When He’s Not Putting the Relationship FirstDo 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?

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Stop Getting Hurt by Untrustworthy Men

how to stop getting hurt by menOne 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.

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Business Conventions Can Help You Get Ahead – and Get a Man

how to get a man at a business conventionIn 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.

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Why He’s Not Taking the Hint

how men and women are differentHave 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.

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How to Take Off Your Mask Without Scaring Him Away

when to be yourselfDating 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,[1] 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.

when to be yourself

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?

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Do You Make Him Want to Be a Better Man?

How To Make Him Want To Be A Better ManNearly 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.[1]

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.

How To Make Him Want To Be A Better ManThink 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.

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Win a Guy’s Interest with These Lesser-Known Physical Cues

how to get a guy's interestSmile. 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?

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Life on the Sidelines—Women, Men, and Spectator Sports

compromising with your boyfriendIf 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.

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How to Achieve Dating Bliss

how to have dating successThere’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.

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How to Date a Dad

How to Date a DadYou’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.

How to Date a DadSo 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—

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Can Your Clothes Really Help You Attract the Guy You Want?

the right clothes to attract a man“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?

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Why Men Love Women Who Love Food

Why Men Love Women Who Love FoodAnna 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.

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Tempt Him Like a Bad Girl Without Being Bad

how to tempt menThere’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.

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The Center of His Universe

how to be the center of his universeJenn 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.

“Yeah.”

“Everything fine at work?”

“Sure.”

“You seem tense,” she said.

“I’m fine.”

Dead end.

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.

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How to Speed Men Up

How to Speed Men UpMen 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.

  1. Keep a full social calendar.

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.

  1. Don’t give him more commitment than he’s given you.

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.

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Why Dating Should Be Work

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.

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What He’s Learning About Women And Why You Should Be Wary

how to stop a pickup artistHave 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.

James

 

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?

It’s simple:

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.

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How to Let Your Hair Down in Front of a Man

how to be yourself during a dateWould 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.

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What Marketing Can Teach You About Online Dating

online dating adviceOnline 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?

  1. Treat your profile as an ad.

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.

  1. Regularly evaluate your ad’s performance.

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.

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3 Ways to Be a Woman Unlike Any Other

why men pick certain women over othersIt’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.

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Become the First Woman to Truly Understand His Needs

understanding his needsHe 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.

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What to Do If You Suck at First Impressions

What to Do If You Suck at First ImpressionsIt 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.

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The Power of Curiosity

improving communicationCuriosity 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?

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How to Keep the Spark Alive in Your Relationship

How to Keep the Spark Alive in Your RelationshipRelationships 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.

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Why a Bad Day Can Make You Hate Your Relationship

moods affecting relationshipTwo questions:

  1. How are you feeling right now?
  2. If you’re in a relationship, do you think you’ll be happy with your boyfriend in a year’s time?

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?

Wrong.

A classic study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology[1] 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.

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Don’t Let Social Media Wreck Your Relationship

social media ruining relationshipsSome 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.[1]

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. Jealousy 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.

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Feeling Vulnerable? Use it to Your Advantage

dealing with vulnerabilityA 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.

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3 Ingredients for a Spicy Relationship

how to keep your relationship passionateBad 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.”

Um, no.

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.

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Use this Force field on Your Ex

how to move on from a breakupIf 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.[1]

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.

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How to Know if He’s a Keeper

How to Know if He’s a KeeperJenn 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…

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When Something Doesn’t Feel Quite Right

relationship feels differentYou 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[1] 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:

Your intuition.

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.

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Use This Communication Experiment to Enhance Bonding

ways to enhance bondingKristina Wright[1] 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?

Text messages.

In a recent article[2] 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.

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Two Solutions for All-Day Fights

Solutions for All-Day FightsWe 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.

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Do You Make This Online Dating Mistake?

online dating mistakesI 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.

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One Surefire Way to Ruin Your Relationship

how to ruin a relationshipLet’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.

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How to Keep Worry from Capsizing a Date

How to be calm during a dateDoes 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:

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Draw Him Closer by Feeding Him This

dealing with a man's egoThe 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.

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Why You Should Be Taking More Risks in Love

dating risksNo 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.

Here’s how.

There are two big ways in which men and women alike play it safe in love.

  1. We try to predict whether a person will be a perfect match before committing to their company.
  2. We censor what we do and say in hopes of impressing the other person, especially when we meet.

Unfortunately, both of those strategies can backfire when it comes to getting a committed romantic partner.

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The Defining Romantic Moment

romantic momentsYou 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.

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A Sneaky Way to Connect with Your Man

how to connect with your manBe 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.

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Introducing “The Butterfly Method” to Survive the Storms in Your Relationship

how to have a successful relationshipPeople 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.

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The Recipe for an Amazing Intimate Connection

how to have an intimate connectionWhich 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.

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Master Romantic Relationships with One Rule

most important relationship rule

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.
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Revealed: What Manners Can Tell You about A Guy

why men have bad mannersShould 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.

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Beautiful People vs Beautiful Relationships

comparing yourself to others“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?

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The “Passion Killer” Emotion. Do You Have It?

what kills passion in relationships” Emotion. Do You Have It?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.

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The Best Way to Introduce Your New Boyfriend

how to introduce your new boyfriendThe 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.

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How to Handle Criticism from Your Partner

How to Handle CriticismPamela 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?

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Here’s A Quick Way to Energize Conversations with Your Man

how to have better conversations with your man

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.

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Why Rushing a Relationship Decreases Your Enjoyment

why you shouldn't rush relationshipsJessica 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.

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Your Crush: “She’s Just So Refreshing.”

creating a lasting relationshipAngie 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.

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Avoid this Holiday Romance Mistake

avoiding relationship mistakesThe 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.

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Do Men Fear Commitment, Or Is It Something Else?

why men won't commitThe 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?

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The Insignificant Compliment that Grabs His Attention

how to compliment menSometimes 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.

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“I’m Too Damaged” 2 Reasons to Believe Him

dealing with insecure guysIf 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.

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The Shadow in Your Relationship

dealing with doubt in a relationship

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.

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The Healing Phrase

how to heal relationshipsI 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.

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The Biggest Little Change

how to have a positive mindset“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.

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How to Ruin Your Relationship (and Still End Up “Lucky in Love”)

dealing with failureThere’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.

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Destined To Be Together

how to make him notice youImagine 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.

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How to Build Happy Memories with Your Guy

How to Build Happy Memories with Your GuyI 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.

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Create Relational Balance

creating a balanced relationshipIt’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?

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Three Questions to Get Him Talking

ways to start a conversationGlennon 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.

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One Relationship Risk You Should Take

taking risks for a relationshipsLet’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.”

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How He’ll Treat You Later

knowing who he really isHave 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?

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Getting Unstuck

Getting UnstuckYou 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.”

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Deeper Intimacy in Five Minutes

deeper intimacyRemember 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).

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All Still

How To Make the Right DecisionsI 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.

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What You Don’t Know

how to deepen your relationshipIn 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.
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Is He Ignoring My Text?

Is He Ignoring My Text?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.

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Losing to Fear

dealing with vulnerabilityShould 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.

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The Least Expected Thing

how to keep romance in your relationshipAs 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.

They’re unexpected.

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.

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Lover’s Quarrel? Try this “Eject Button” to End Arguments Fast

how to end relationship fights“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?

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Four Text Messages to Avoid

Four Text Messages to AvoidText 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.

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Unlock His Desire to Be with You. Try This One Simple Idea Tonight

how to get him to like you
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.

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A Simple Method for Enjoying Life

how to live in the presentI’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?

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How Music Can Make You Seem More Beautiful

the benefits of musicWhen 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.

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Things Interesting People Do

Things Interesting People DoSome 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.

  1. Interesting people share more.
    Specifically, they tend to say the things the rest of us suppress. Things like: “Has that painting always been there?” Or, “I think Thursdays make me depressed.” Or even, “Is it just me, or does the boss tend to stare at Jenny more than the rest of us?”

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.

  1. Interesting people talk to others more.
    As a result, they end up knowing more people. They also become repositories for all kinds of hilarious stories and inside information.

How do they do it?

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How to Find Common Ground Fast

how to find common groundFinding 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.

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Why Your Flirting Style Matters

different types of flirtingWhich 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).

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The Art of “Exclusive” Flirting

how to flirtDo 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.

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Relationship Decisions that Bind You

how to move forward
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.

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How to Rekindle His Romantic Interest in You

how to keep the passion going 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.

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Is Your Relationship Changing?

accepting changes in the relationshipEverything 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?

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My Secret Source for Dating Insights

dating advice from your friendsCan 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.

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How to win at love (no matter what)

how to win at loveLove 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.

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Don’t Pay It Forward

how to forgive menGranted, 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.

It hurts.

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.

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Ask Him This…

communicating with your partnerHave 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.

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The Perfect Date for Your Long Term Relationship

Dating In A Long Term RelationshipAre 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.

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Every relationship improves when you add “The Awesome Equation”

how to maintain positive energyToday 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?

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Build Trust with Your Partner

building trust with your partnerArthur 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.

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Relationship Constraints

removing relationship constraintsAny 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.

The key to removing relationship constraints is to identify the constraints.

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.

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Aphrodisiacs and Magic Beans

foods that elevate moodEach 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.”

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Driving You Crazy

how to improve your relationshipIt’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.

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Only Be Exclusive When the Timing Is Right

when to be exclusiveNothing 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.

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Nine Ways to Woo Your Man

Ways to Woo Your ManEveryone 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.

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Men Who Placate to Avoid Disagreements

how men avoid disagreementsShe 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?

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Activate Your Relationship Knowledge

turning knowledge into actionYou’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.

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I want to love you (without overwhelming you)

how to show love without smotheringThe 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.

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Destined for Love

finding the right personKristen 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.

In fact, research has shown that a strong belief in destiny can actually wreak havoc on romance and lower your chances of finding the right person.

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.

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Anger should be released (but only in certain ways)

how to release angerIs 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.

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Why Guys Are Getting Sloppy

finding men who are worth dating“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.

What changed?

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Romantic Friends

how to be friends with your loverShortly 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?

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Don’t Hold Back

how to find your inner strengthMae 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.

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Don’t Miss These “Silent Moment” Opportunities for Intense Connection with Your Man

connecting deeply with your man

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.

That kind of silence speaks volumes for connecting deeply with your  man.

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.

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The Upside of Relationship Mistakes

The Upside of Relationship MistakesWhich 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?

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Why Men Lose Focus on Relationships (And How To Gently Pull Him Back)

why men lose relationship focusI am no one special. Just a common man with common thoughts. And I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect, I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived. I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and for me, that has always been enough.
– 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.

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Date Like A Model

how to date successfullyRuth 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.

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Healthy Relationship Boundaries

How To Draw Healthy Relationship BoundariesHealthy 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?

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When He Doesn’t Let You In

how to know when to move onJessica 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.

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Disappearing Reappearing Love

when love disappearsToday 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.

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When Less Is More

important qualities in a manMinimalism 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.

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Three Nonromantic Tendencies to Encourage

signs of moving forward in a relationshipNo, 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.

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The Relationship Dance

finding common ground with your manAnne 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.

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What’s He Not Telling You? Learn to Hear What Isn’t Being Said in Your Relations

What isn't being said in a relationship.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.

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When he clams up, do this.

how to help your man open upMen 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?

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The Apology Hack that Gets Better Results than “I’m sorry”

how to apologizeWhich 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.

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Not Your Reality

overcoming negativitySinger 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.

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Not Sure If He Likes You?

not sure if a guy likes youIt’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.

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What does “Aging Gracefully” mean?

how to age gracefullyMelissa 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