I've recently found myself fascinated with the concept of everlasting romantic love - although just writing that term makes me sound like a sappy single, instead of one truly dedicated to researching and determining if love shared throughout a lifetime really does (or can) exist. There's a lot of research surrounding the topic from a variety of viewpoints, and I've done my best to summarize it here. (see: Does Love Last?)
I can read until I'm blue in the face while the statistics swirl about in my head, and still feel confuddled as to what's what. I hope that I've been able to shed (a bit) of light on the subject in the aforementioned article, however I'd still like to hear from you, my dear readers. Do you believe that romantic love can last a lifetime? Why or why not?
A few years ago the magazine Scientific American Mind discussed how we meet someone we marry, live with, or partner with (either short term or long term). Interestingly, some dating statistics presented in the article provided variations between the different relationship statuses and how we meet, and showed that it wasn't that different depending on how committed we were: the majority in all four scenarios meet through friends most of the time, with self-introduction and family members falling suit. Of course there were some predictable variations - such as short-term partnerships (i.e. casual relationships) meeting through self-introduction the most and family members the least - but I found the study results interesting.
In the article, writers Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler tackle the seemingly debate-ridden stance that meeting the love of our lives has less to do with randomness and chance, and more to do with social networks than anything else. Out goes the romantic notion that a 'happy accident' or fate pulling people together such as in many a romantic comedy. No, the stats are quite clear: if you want to find someone to partner up with, no matter what kind of relationship you are looking for, use your social networks.
But how about you? How did you meet your current, or last partner? Take the poll and let me know.
Christakis, N.A., & Fowler, J. H. (2009, November/December). Love the one you're with. Scientific American Mind, 20(6), 48-55.
There are a number of friends in my personal circle whom I know, without them having to say a word, when they've started a new relationship. Why? Because suddenly I stop hearing from them, or they cancel plans more often than not.
A reader recently asked, "I've been single for a while now, have joined quite a few free dating sites, and I either get matches by people from the states (I live in Ontario, Canada) or from guys that are not in my age range. Or not even anything I would like. Or on the other hand, if I send a message to somebody, they don't reply back. What am I doing wrong?"
I think there are four main reasons why this lady has not received any responses to her dating profile that she finds acceptable, and have answered them in great detail already. (see: Why Am I Not Getting Any Responses To My Dating Profile?) Do you think I've missed any, or have further ideas and suggestions?
Do you have a difficult or frustrating dating question? Then fill out the dating advice submission form to have your question answered here.
When dating someone new, what's your primary motivation?
After reading a quick clip in Bernice Kanner's book, Are You Normal? (Buy Direct), I learned that the majority of men (42%) and women (51%) date to 'establish a relationship', whereas 33% of men and 29% of women date to 'have a good time'.
I couldn't find the origin of the statistics quoted unfortunately; I'm still looking. Since the book was published in 2004, I'm assuming the research is a bit dated now - so now I'm even more curious as to what the point of dating is for people today. Take the poll and let me know - why do you date?
Sarah asks: "I have been dating a great guy for a little over 5 months. We are both in our 20's. He has a very demanding job and is extremely busy, while I am a college student with a much more flexible schedule. Our sex life has always been great - we have awesome bedroom chemistry, and it has always been an enjoyable, zesty enterprise for us both. However, he decided to stop drinking for a month - he felt like he was doing it too much. He has lost all interest in sex - we haven't done it in about a month. He says it is because his emotions and thoughts are all changing and becoming clearer because he has stopped drinking. Also, he is on antidepressants, and I have read that they can decrease libido. He is still very affectionate - we cuddle every night we are together, hold hands and kiss. I asked him if I had put on weight or anything since we started dating, and he insists that I have nothing to do with his lack of libido. Does this seem plausible? If this is a temporary thing, it is definitely worth it for me to wait it out and be patient and give him time, because he is a great person. I just want to know if the reasons he gave me for this seem legitimate. How long is too long without sex, especially in a new-ish relationship between young people?"
First off, kudos to your boyfriend for realizing he had a problem and doing something about it. It couldn't have been easy asking for help, and I applaud his willingness to seek treatment. As I've gotten older I've realized that a partner who can admit when they've got a serious problem and do something about it is a rare gem indeed. Sure, he's in the early stages of the process, but it's a good start.
As for the questions about your sexual frequency, many anti-depressants decrease a person's libido (see: The Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants or this poll, in which 88% of readers say yes they experienced sexual side effects). There are ways to mitigate this issue; your boyfriend needs to speak with his doctor about his options.
In the meantime, I highly recommend reading When Someone You Love Is Depressed by Drs. Lauren Rosen and Xavier Amador (Buy Direct) or About.com's Guide to Depression, who has written about the topic extensively (10 Tips for Coping With Depression in a Relationship, What To Do When Someone You Love Is Depressed). Its a difficult thing to date someone who is depressed, so you'll need as much support as you can get (as will he!) during this difficult time. I also recommend, if you can, to talk to a mental health professional yourself about how you're feeling.
Don't forget however that sexual frequency decreases in most relationships when the initial honeymoon phase wears off - usually somewhere around three months to two years. This is normal and to be expected. No one could continue the initial rush of sexual frenzy or excitement of getting to know someone new forever; some studies are even likening falling in love to certain forms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - see Daniel Amen's The Brain In Love (Buy Direct) for more on this topic. It's a heady thing being in someone's company constantly, having lots of great sex, and connecting deeply with your partner - but after a while, the body can start to fight back and say, "Okay, back to work! Let's find a more healthy balance." From that little you've shared, it sounds like your boyfriend is trying to do exactly that. Is it temporary? There's no way to tell really, but I'll hazard this is just one step along a long evolutionary path, with its length determined by the longevity of your relationship.
So what can you do? I suggest you stop asking him if you've gained weight and/or if you are attractive to him anymore. By asking you are both reminding him that he's not satisfying you and thus not making you happy, as well as using negative self-talk to put yourself down. Of *course* you're still attractive and desirable! That hasn't changed in the five months you've been dating. The issue here is something much greater than you, and can't be taken personally. Can you start looking at your sex life as something that will constantly evolve and yet still be completely normal? Can you learn more about depression and how it affects your partner? Do you want to continue dating a man that is going through a major upheaval in his life, and support him through the unpredictable process? Those are your questions to answer, and no one but you can decide what's best for you.
Have you ever wanted to create an online dating profile that attracted exactly the kind of member you were looking to meet, yet struggled to find the 'right' way to show off your amazingness? Most of us have, and many will enlist the help of a profile writing expert to assist with choosing the right words, images and feel. There has to be an easier way though, right? I mean, if my Android phone can automatically tell me I should expect a package today (from an email that I received three days ago, with only the tracking number to go on), my phone, email and/or search engine should be able to tell me how to best present myself to other singles out there.
A few companies have attempted to assist singles looking for love, lust, or something in between with a variety of metrics-based online tools that focus on the profile creation stage. OkCupid was the first (that I know of) with MyBestFace, where registered members of OkCupid can submit photos for review by other members, eventually spitting out a list of what worked and what didn't (as well as for what kinds of people and their basic demographics) once you've done the same for about 15 minutes' -worth of profiles yourself. It's a great, free program (other than an investment of your time) however it only focuses on your profile picture, and completely ignores what you're actually, you know, saying.
This is where Plumer steps in, an app-in-progress that hopes to change the confusion surrounding what to say, how to say it, and which pictures to use on your online dating profiles through concrete testing and statistics. Plumer, a name inspired by some birds' attempts at a mating call through re-arranging their feathers, wants to "remove a huge pain point" for new online daters through their system, and they're rushing to get it out singles just like you.
Why the rush, and why am I writing about an app that's still in the works? Here's where Plumer's story gets interesting: the developers are currently (until 9AM PST March 5, 2014) on a StartupBus, coding, planning and optimizing as fast as they can, while other teams on the same bus try to out-maneuver each other for entrepreneurial success. Each team has only 72 hours on the bus to create, flesh out, and get their business up and running, and everything is shared live-time on the web - a bit shaky I must admit, yet wildly fascinating and definitely worth a look if you're entrepreneurial, or at the very least curious. Check out StartupBus.com for the North American teams, buses and projects.
Plumer is currently accepting Beta testers (until their time runs out tomorrow morning) for the project; if you'd like to get involved, or want more information, check them out here.
Although the research is a few years old, and the information geared towards first emails, I think this information bears repeating to anyone using online dating sites to meet people: when crafting a dating email, avoid the use of netspeak - unless you're laughing.
Why? OkCupid decided to look into what kinds of emails their members replied to most. They gleaned lots of tangible, relevant information from a sampling of 500,000 first contact dating emails, some of which was surprising, like:
- A unique salutation (such as 'yo' or 'howdy') fared better than the standard 'hello', or 'hi';
- Use the word 'pretty' as an adverb (i.e. pretty sure) rather than an adjective (i.e. you're pretty) for a higher number of replies; and
- Avoid comments that refer to the other person's physical appearance, even if you're complimenting them, for a higher response rate.
see: What To Say In a First Message for the original data.
There were a few tidbits that made me sigh with relief however. Notably, the use of textspeak garnered significantly less email responses (ur instead of your, wat as opposed to what, etc.). Yet 'lol' or 'haha' are acceptable, and might even increase your online dating responses.
So, what do you think? When you receive a dating email riddled with textspeak, do you reply? Do you send emails that compliment the other person? Has it made any difference with regards to the number of replies received?
Have you ever had a date that you knew you'd never forget, no matter what happened with the relationship? One that took your breath away, one that made you giggle, or one that just plain made you feel great?
I've heard some dating disaster doozies, and a lot of love stories that made my heart swell. But what I'm after are those dates that will go down in your personal history as one of the best dates of all time - and I'd love to know why said date was so amazing. Did you share great chemistry, or did the words just flow like with no one else? Was it a first date, or was it with someone you'd been dating for years? Were any intimacies exchanged, or was it more lighthearted and and carefree? Did you share your first kiss on the date, or did you do something else - or nothing at all?
I'd like to collect a huge database of the best dates ever, so that other singles and dating couples can read through the list, get inspired, try some of the great date ideas themselves, and report back how their amazing date fared. So don't be shy and share your good date stories - and maybe even win the reader story of the week.
Chloe asks: "I'm 18 and my boyfriend is 31. He's ready to start a family with me, but I feel like I'm too young to even start thinking about having kids. I'm flattered that he wants me as the mother of his children but the thought scares me too. He's the only guy I've ever dated, and I really care about him a lot. How do I tell him I'm not ready for kids without him breaking up with me over it?"
What concerns me most about your question Chloe is the older man aspect of your equation. You probably already know, but dating someone who is thirteen years older than you at this stage of your life is a challenge at the best of times. He's ready to settle down and you aren't. He's already learned how to be independent and live as an adult, whereas you're just getting started - and may still be finishing high school. Basically, your goals and aspirations aren't going to jive with your boyfriends'.
This might be difficult to hear, and I realize its not what you're asking, but you need to tell him that you're not ready to have kids yet and prepare yourself for the relationship ending because of it. This isn't your time to start a family, and from what you've said, that won't change anytime soon. If he's dead set on having kids ASAP, then it might be best for both of you if things ended now.
A few recent emails have asked me what kind of Valentine gifts readers could buy for their partner at the last minute - either because they'd completely forgotten about the event, really had no clue what to do and waited until the last minute, or had just started a relationship and weren't sure if they should get their new partner something special.
For those in the forgetful camp, I've created a small but fun list of last minute valentine gifts, most of which are inexpensive. I've also tried to include a few on the list that were appropriate for newer couplings as well as more seasoned partnerships. I'd also recommend taking a peek at my first date gift ideas for those new to each other - everything on the list is inexpensive, fun, and lighthearted enough to share early on, while still providing ample opportunity for romance and/or get-to-know-you conversations.
Do you have any suggestions for last minute valentine gifts, or has your partner ever surprised you with something truly magical that probably didn't take a lot of time to set up?
More last minute valentine gift ideas:
- Flower Gifts - why last minute? Because they deliver!
- Valentines Day Chocolatesmost of these only have another day to ship, so you may want to order right now if you'd like it in time.
- Plant A Tree Gift - Self explanatory probably; you purchase a tree on behalf of your partner virtually, and the tree is named after them in their honor. Or, you could go to a nursery and purchase a small tree and plant it together as a symbol of your love growing for one another.
- Romantic Valentine Ideas - Everything on this list is something you can create with a day's notice or less.
- Romantic Dinner for Two - I like pairing this one with the dinner and a movie date idea personally, but you could just go all out making dinner instead.
- Romantic Text Messages - Honestly, there's no reason why you can't use your cell phone to create romance with your partner. Maybe a lovey scavenger hunt, or a series of short, cute love quotes throughout the day?
- You Light Up My Life Romantic Idea - Quick, simple, and only as far away as the dollar or toy store.
How important is Valentine's Day to you? The answer to that might determine if you're morose about being alone or happy about celebrating Valentine's Day single.
But what if instead, those who are still single/single again amongst us, decided to claim Valentine's Day as our own? As a day to celebrate love in all of its forms, including most importantly the ability to love oneself - no matter how we feel about February 14th?
So say instead of looking at the cheap Valentine's Day ideas that I've written from the perspective as a person part of a couple, you look at the suggestions instead as a single person pampering themselves like no one else can. Maybe all you want to do is curl up with a good book and a mug of cold beer - why not take advantage, avoid the Valentine's Day crowd, and plan for it? Or maybe being social is more your thing - so why not throw a Valentine's Day costume party for all of your single friends?
Are you single this Valentine's Day? What do you plan on doing, if anything? When single, do you celebrate St. Valentine's Day? To choose an answer, click on the appropriate link, or if you feel I've missed something please feel free to share your comments.
I'm curious. How many people really aren't prepared for Valentine's Day? How many single people shun the holiday completely? Vote now in the poll below by clicking on the link you choose.
With only six days to go, I'm getting a lot of questions about St. Valentine's Day. Where should we go? What should we do? What do I do with a gift that I bought in anticipation for February 14th now that we broke up? How do I honor a day of love when I'm not feeling very loving or lovable? And the most asked question of late: How do I meet someone before St. Valentine's Day?
Because of (and to answer) these questions, I'll be blogging lots on the topic in the next few days. For now however, I've posted a What To Do For St. Valentine's Day index. Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments.
With Valentine's Day creeping nearer, I thought I'd focus the next few weeks on the lovers holiday, and what it means for both dating singles and couples. Today I'm doing a quick run through of love throughout time, and how some of the ideas attached to February 14th came to be regular everyday conversations.
- Immortal Love Legends from the About.com Guide to Hinduism: If you aren't familiar with Hinduism, one of its basic foundations is a series of love stories that are both breathtaking and awe-inspiring. If you're wanting for some love stories that'll inspire and teach, this is the place to start.
- Love Goddesses from the About.com Guide to Ancient History: Some of the more well-known Goddesses are covered in this series including Aphrodite and Venus - but what about Isis or Freya? And then of course there is the God of love, Cupid, of whom Valentine's Day revolves around (depending on your version of how Valentine's Day came to be).
- Love Magic from the About.com Guide to Paganism and Wicca: Are love spells considered ok in the Wiccan community? The ethics of love magic is still debated amongst those who practice the religion, but if you'd like a primer on what they are and how they came to be you'll find what you need here.
- Feng Shui For Love Relationships: Developed over 3,000 years ago in Asia, Feng Shui is another way view love and relationships throughout history and how we've adapted over the years to pursue romantic interests.
- Romance Through The Ages from the About.com Guide to Genealogy: Dating and courtship has come a long way since ancient and medieval times, and a fascinating path its been. Tie that into the history of Valentine's Day and you've got quite the love story.
Looking to add a bit of romance to your dating relationship? Why not try one of these suggestions to spruce things up a bit?
Date Ideas in General
- Putting the Romance Back in Your Dates
- Inexpensive Date Ideas
- Creative Date Ideas
- Date Ideas by Sun Sign
- Fun Date Ideas
- Science Dating Ideas
- Dinner and a Movie Dates
- Seduce Your Long Term Relationship Partner
- Totally Free Date Ideas
- Most Romantic Dates in LA
- Indy's Top Romantic Date Ideas
- Valentine's Day in Atlanta
- Best Romantic Dates in Brooklyn
- Finding Romance in Little Rock
- Valentine's Day Date Ideas in Oklahoma City
- Most Romantic Restaurants in Hunstville
- Best Dates in the Washington, DC Area
- Romantic Places in Phoenix and Scottsdale
- A Month of Dates With Your Spouse
- First Date Ideas for Seniors
- Have the Perfect First Date
- Empty Nester Date Ideas
- Date Ideas for Long Distance Relationships
I'd love to hear about your most memorable, romantic date, and what it took to plan it. Simple or complex, quick or a weekend-long, share your dates, your stories, and your successes.
If you or your sweetie have been dropping hints this year to go somewhere special this Valentine's Day, now is the time to plan and book your romantic getaway - or a staycation if the idea suits your pocketbook or work requirements more. Some ideas:
- Valentines Day Getaway Packages in the Western US
- Southwest US Valentine Getaways
- Island Valentine Vacations
- Valentines Day Cruises
And what about those of you staying home this Valentine's Day? I've got a host of cheap Valentine's Day ideas compiled already, as well as a list of romantic Valentines Day ideas. Some of my favorites:
- Buy some massage oils or bars (Buy Direct) and make a night of working through a whole book devoted to the subject together, such as Sensual Massage Made Simple (Buy Direct).
- Gather together the fixings for each of your favorite sundae toppings, and then have fun making the ultimate masterpiece for each other instead of doing it yourself.
- Play a couples game together, letting the winner choose his or her prize beforehand. Perhaps breakfast in bed, or a fantasy lived out? Its your choice.
- Ladies, there are a great many Valentine's Day costumes to dress up in, or both of you could dress up and play out some of your more original or unique daydreams with your partner. (For costume ideas, try the Halloween Costumes for Couples or Singles articles - some of the singles options are particular sexy and appropriate).
Are you going away this Valentine's Day, or stay at home and spend some quality time with the person you're dating?
If you're anything like me, you'll spend a romantic night curled up with a good movie, book, and/or soundtrack and making something delectable to eat. I'll talk about what sort of romantic foods to delve into another day, but today - let's talk about what to read, watch and listen to. Romantic Films
- Dinner and a Movie Date Ideas
- Best Date Movies of All Time
- Top Romantic Movies - from our Guide to Home Video
- AFI's Top Love Stories - from our Guide to Movies
- Classic Romantic Movies - from our Guide to Classic Film
- Top Indie Romantic Films - from our Guide to World Film
- Romantic Idea - Book Hijack
- Romance Classics - by our Guide to Classic Literature
- Love Quotes - from our Guide to Quotations
- Immortal Love Legends - from our Guide to Hinduism
- Top Anime Love Stories - from our Guide to Anime
- Top Latin Romantic Albums - from our Guide to Latin Music
- Classical Music of Romance - from our Guide to Classical Music
- Top 100 Country Music Love Songs Of All Time - by our Guide to Country Music
- Top 10 Love Song CDs - by our Guide to Oldies Music
- Top 100 Love Songs - from our Guide to Top 40
- Top 10 Christian Love Songs - by our Guide to Christian Music
I'm far from a huge Valentine's Day person, I'll admit. Yet the year that the guy I was dating at the time made me both a gift (a photo book) and dinner (a luxurious all-out affair) is one that I'll never, ever forget. So if you're the crafty type who wants to make something special for your sweetie - or hey, even for yourself if you're single - then some of my fellow Guides here at About.com have the digs:
Valentine's Day Knitting Projects
My favorite? The 'hugs and kisses' XOXO scarf, which I've knit a few times myself.
Beaded Safety Pin Patterns
Maybe for the younger set; still fun nonetheless.
DIY Sexy Valentine's Day Gifts
A whole host of fun, exciting and very sexy ideas to make for your partner.
Valentine's Day Quilts
Ok, you might not have time to make a whole quilt before February 14th, but maybe you do if you start now? Quilters, you'll have to chime in on this one.
Valentine's Day Soap Projects
Ooh, yummy. Ok I think I might have to try a few of these myself. Not for my partner. No, no. For myself! Hm, or maybe I'll try making these cocoa butter massage bars instead.
Fabric Heart Treat Bag
From About.com's Expert to Sewing, a cute little bag to make that could hold something small but significant.
Valentine's Day Painting Projects
Wow, there's a huge list of ideas and projects to choose from here, most of which are perfect for beginners.
Valentine's Day Jewelry Making Projects
A three page list of jewelry projects, mostly for women, that are skewed from beginners to advanced levels.
Draw a Manga Valentine's Day Card
Unusual and perfect for the manga-lover in your life.
Crocheted Valentine's Day Arrangement
With a few flowers from your garden, this would make a lovely gift.
Free Bead Patterns for Valentine's Day
A handful of cute, small projects from the Guide to Beadwork.
Inexpensive and easy enough for anyone to do, you can use the list of ideas presented here or make your own. Make Your Own Valentine's Day Cards
So much more personal when you do it yourself, with the help of some ink and stamps.
Create a Romantic Presentation
Alright, so it's a bit of a stretch from crafty, however it is DIY. Use Powerpoint to make your partner a Valentine's Day -themed presentation with the tips and tricks suggested here.
This is Day Three of the 30 Days of Romance. For an explanation and to start your journey, take a peek at Day One.
While talking to someone about this column earlier in the evening, they made a valid point: "Love letters and notes. It's sad to see electronics taking away the use of letters and notes".
When's the last time you wrote a love letter with paper and pen to your sweetie, or even to yourself? Have you ever written a letter of appreciation to a family member, dear friend, or even a stranger? Today's romantic gestures involve old-fashioned, hand-written notes bursting with affection, gratitude and adoration for singles and couples alike.
I once attended a singles event where everyone wore a number, and they had a corresponding envelope hanging on the wall. Little pieces of paper and pencils were strewn about the space for people to write notes to one another. Once you finished writing your note, you gave it to a staffer to put in the proper envelope, and then picked up your own notes. I spent most of my night trying to write a note to everyone at that event - more than 400 people - with something random, appreciative and loving shared inside. I failed to get to everyone, however I did meet a lot of people that evening and received more than 300 messages myself. I kept them all, many of them really lovely, and took a picture to remind myself that the love I shared came back to me in spades. How can you do something similar in your own life today?
- Hand write a letter of appreciation to someone you love, and send it to them via snail mail, anonymously;
- Send yourself a love letter;
- Write love notes to yourself and/or your partner all over the house in unexpected places: on each individual egg in the carton, on a piece of parchment paper still on the roll, as a bookmark.. you get the idea. Get even more creative and use soap to write the love note on the bathroom mirror, or use Rolaids to write on a wall (both will appear unexpectedly!);
- Buy yourself a book of love poetry, and make a commitment to read one poem every night before bed, or upon arising each morning;
- Handwrite a love note and turn it into a jigsaw puzzle. Hide the pieces all over the house, or mail each piece individually to your partner;
- Buy small things that represent something sexy and/or sensual, write a note on or with them saying how hot you are for them, and either leave them around the house, or snail mail the gifts to your partner. Some ideas: hot sauce, instant hand warmers, cinnamon hearts, sexy lingerie, a candle, tea - bonus points on the last one if it's a spicy chai (Buy Direct);
- Write a love letter and cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Then, hide a note in every room in the house;
- Pick out some of your favorite romantic quotes and have them printed out on your own cards (Buy Direct) or hit the local greeting card store and buy out all of the cards you love. Put one on your love's bedside table for them to find every morning, or somewhere else they're sure to see them, every day, for the next 30 days.
When is the last time you wrote a letter to the person you're dating to share just how much you care? Have you ever written a letter of gratitude to yourself, a stranger, a loved one? How did it make you feel? Do you have any other suggestions for writing love letters, to celebrate the romance in your life?
This is Day Two of the 30 Days of Romance. For an explanation and to start your journey, take a peek at Day One.
Yes, as the saying goes, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". I've even got a picture on my phone somewhere of a sand sculpture depicting just that. Really though, many cultures feel that love is shared through food, and with both men and women alike. Singles and couples can also use any today's romantic suggestions to increase the love in their lives with a bit of flare and creativity.
- Vary your routine with a unique dinner and a movie date night;
- Cook a meal replete with known, nutritionally-based aphrodisiacs or superfoods that enhance your sex life;
- Buy yourself a cookbook meant for lovers, and try out a recipe once a week;
- Have a competition with your partner, your friends, or just yourself, to find the most romantic restaurant in town. Explore different options as your pocketbook allows, either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis;
- Buy yourself, or your partner, a small kitchen-related gift;
- Try cooking something outside of your comfort zone, such as wild game, bbq, or local foods, or try a new-to-you cuisine such as Thai, Spanish, Morrocan, Korean, Dutch or Australian.
- Make everything for the day, week, or month, have something heart-shaped or red in/on it, such as dusting your french toast with heart-shaped icing sugar, making heart-shaped ice cubes, putting any condiments on your plate in heart shapes (or spelling out I Love You), and other heart-shaped foods.
How do you use food to show your love? What's touched your heart as a romantic gesture from a partner, friend, or even a gift you gave yourself, that was food-related?
It's that time of year again: the one where Cupid wields his arrow and hearts adorn most greeting card establishments. Where couples start planning for their yearly display of love, and singles either try to ignore the impending celebration of love, or try to meet someone special just in time for the impending celebration of love. That's right, Valentine's Day is just 30 days away, and I'd like to help you all usher in a New Year that focuses on the love you seek, whether it's already in your life, or just around the corner.
For the next 30 days, I plan on giving you, my dear readers, a daily dose of loving things to do for yourself or a romantic partner, where you can increase the love you feel, as well as give freely of what it is you're seeking. For 30 days, we'll explore all different types of romantic gestures, culminating with February 14th's celebration of all things heartfelt. For 30 days we'll also share our experiences with these experiments, in the hopes that we feel more connected to ourselves, our partners, and the love around us. Sound hokey? Maybe. Yet almost everyone I know, including you dear readers, can always use more love in our lives.
And so, Day One! Flowers.
Many couples will exchange flowers for Valentine's Day such as a dozen roses. While a devastatingly romantic gesture (and an expensive one on Valentine's Day!) I suggest starting with flowers today, instead. Not only will it help reduce the dent in your pocketbook, it'll remind you of the beauty that's on it's way with spring just down the road. Some suggestions, applicable to both singles and couples alike:
- Splurge and buy yourself or your partner a lovely bouquet of flowers, ones that really speak to you, and keep them in a prominent place in your home (Buy Direct);
- Make a dried flower sachet;
- Create your own bouquet of flowers using origami;
- Create a special blend of floral-based tea such as hibiscus or rose petal;
- Cook a meal that includes flowers, such as a Frozen Flower Bowl and Fruit Salad, Curried Daylillies, or a Blueberry Lavender Crisp;
- Get some carnations and dye them either your favorite color, or your partner's;
- Learn how to make a flower glow in the dark;
- Get crafty and make some flowers, either with marshmallows, balloons, chocolate, felt, or paper.
What about you? How do you show your love through flowers? Also, what kind of romantic gestures would you like to explore over the next 30 days?
Do you have any dating-related New Years resolutions this year? I've solicited singles, couples and experts for their views and ideas, creating two New Years resolution lists that I think will be helpful to a lot of readers:
A couple of the suggestions - such as 39-year-old Megan Reese's of creating a 'Man Plan' for her dating life - are extensive yet focused, while others are simple shifts in one's worldview to improve either the relationships we are attracting, or those we already have. And then there is a whole other level of New Years resolution, and I've found one that is so above and beyond the norm (but fascinating!) that it deserved more than just a quick quip in an article.
The first comes from best selling authors and challenge creators Pastor Kerry Shook and his wife Chris. Their book, One Month to Live, suggest that those wanting a dramatic shift in their lives just need to think about what they'd do if they only had thirty days left. From one of their press releases:
"Arguably, resolutions fail because there's no sense of urgency. With a whole year ahead to reach the goal, it's easy to relegate it to the back burner or forget about it altogether. Indeed, in one study nearly 40 percent of respondents cite having too many other things to do as the reason for breaking their resolutions. But what if instead of just making resolutions you acted as if you had only 30 days to live and to really make a difference in your life?"
What about you? Have you ever gone to extreme lengths to find a date? Would you? Have you resolved to improve about your dating life or relationship for 2013?
Where I currently live gets little snow, much less temperatures in the freezing range. And yet, one night, I woke up to huge white fluffy snowflakes everywhere.
I'm sure I'm not the only single snowed who feels snowed in (even if the snow didn't stick), wishing he or she were out and about meeting new people, socializing, working, or planning holiday party shenanigans. And I'm also quite positive there are more than a few dating couples who are also frustrated, either unable to get to their partner's place or feeling cooped up with nothing to do together.
Although I love the snow (as I'm sure the local ski hill does as well), I sometimes find it challenging to get out and socialize or head for a run when it's as cold as it is here today. Once I actually get to my cozy destination however, I'm usually quite content with wherever I've ended up -- until I need to go back outside again. So I coax myself home with the knowledge that a good book and a comforting soup are waiting for me at home to curl up with.
I've heard several stories of late from readers and friends who've admitted they met the person they are dating during inclement weather, or who were out enjoying activities only partaken during the winter months, such as skiing or ice fishing. I even heard from one couple who met during a snow camping expedition for an Outward Bound -type organization.
What about you? Do you find it harder to meet people when the weather is challenging? Do you use nasty outside temperatures as an excuse to spend more time with the person you are dating?
Dan asks, "I am looking for adult dating site for casual encounters. Do you know some websites that are real?"
I get this question a fair amount, mostly from gents. (see: Are There Any Legitimate Adult Dating Sites?) My answer pretty much remains the same, however I'm answering it again, as I find folks looking for 'adult' dating and casual dating are after two different things.
So to answer Dan: I'd say most of the sites are 'real', in that they're intended to make money for the owners and actually connect folks. What's in question however is whether the profiles are real, as well as the people behind them.
I've reviewed a number of sites catering to casual dating, with mixed reviews from readers like you. All of them have some fake profiles - I think that's a given. Fake could mean completely bogus profiles to trump up numbers, staff members posing as members to engage folks, prostitutes or cam girls to try and get new clients, romance scammers looking for money, or people who say they're someone other than they are. It's tricky to monitor this sort of thing. Depending on your age, interests, and what you're like in person, you may well have better luck at the club/bar finding someone for a casual relationship, to be frank. Women have all the control on these sites, and the real ones are few and far between.
If you're really dead set on using a dating site however, I'd try OkCupid first, and make sure you put you're looking for casual in your profile, and then search for the same. I've also had moderate luck with Adult Friend Finder (in the chat rooms only, the free ones), Lavalife in their Intimate Encounters section (mostly for Canadians though), Craigslist, and FetLife (not technically a dating site, and only for really open minded, kinky folks - read more about them here: BDSM Dating Sites).
What about you? Do you think that casual dating sites are 'real'? Any tips or points for success?
"Energy flows where attention goes."
A Huna saying that has found a new set of followers through the book, "The Secret", this is what was emblazoned on a bookmark I received for Christmas a few years back from a dear friend. Although I've heard the phrase before, for some reason this time I can't get it out of my head.
Like many folks, I have also gotten stuck in the past thinking about the "nts" in my dating life. Some of the ones I've heard recently from readers:
- I don't feel attractive/skinny/smart enough;
- Why couldn't s/he have given me a chance/been faithful/trusted me;
- I'll never find a date/love/satisfaction in a relationship...
You get my jist. We all have our 'nts', and some are a bit more challenging than others. So what if we were to ignore those 'nts', just for a couple of days, and focus instead on what we want to bring into our lives instead?
About.com's Guide to Holistic Healing has written a lovely article about Attracting Positives, using a technique that focuses on surrounding yourself with positive images, whether they be physical, mental or spiritual manifestations. I think I'll create my own little Book of Positives, kind of like the one in Queen Latifah's movie, Last Holiday as my gift to myself these next few days. My pre- New Years' resolution, if you will.
What about you? How do you stay positive when dating, or looking for love? What techniques have worked for you?
A few times in my life, I've had nothing to do during the holiday season. Both of my parents passed away when I was young, and I've always felt self-conscious inviting myself over to a friends' place for a Hanukkah or Christmas dinner. Throughout the years I've done various things to keep me busy, distracting myself from the thought of being alone:
- Creating a tradition to share with a friend, which at the time was going to see an animated or kids movie in the theater on Christmas Day;
- Volunteering at a soup kitchen or Meals on Wheels;
- Watching sappy, romantic holiday movies; and/or
- Inviting everyone I knew over for dinner.
Some years however, I've found myself grieving a loss and not feeling much like celebrating. Friends and family have kept me cheerful, and the secret gift exchanges I participated in past years warmed my heart. One gesture in particular from a group of my colleagues here at About.com made me feel more grateful, humble and thankful than I have in years, and I can't thank them enough. It reminded me that people do care and want to help those struggling in any way they can.
So for those of you feeling alone this time of year and with whatever celebration you normally recognize, this post is for you. I've written an article about Being Alone During the Holidays in response to this feeling, and I hope it provides assistance and comfort to those who need it. For everyone else, I'd love it if you shared how you cope with being single, alone, or otherwise sad during the holiday season, and what you're doing to increase your levels of joy and abundance.
It's during the holidays that, when single, I become a huge sap. Even if I'm happy not being in a relationship, I still find I long for a partnership during the holidays.
Readers of this blog already know I'm a romantic at heart, even if recent studies are showing more and more people are favoring a lifestyle of hooking up, casual sex and friends with benefits instead of actual dating (see The Definition of Dating and The Death of Dating? for more on this topic).
Having said all of that, this doesn't mean that I'll jump into a relationship because I'm feeling a bit lonely by myself under the mistletoe. Being swept off one's feet by a romantic stranger just seems better in the movies sometimes -- which is why, whenever I find myself in this frame of mind, I watch movies like While You Were Sleeping, Fiddler on the Roof, and When Harry Met Sally. Again.
I don't normally go out of my way to watch romantic comedies, or even sappy romances for that matter. Yet during the holidays, I can't seem to get enough of the romantic holiday movie fare. Especially when I'm single.
Am I the only one, or do other singles feel this twinge of something or other this time of year? What do you do about it, if anything at all?
Just over five thousand users of dating website FreeDating.co.uk were polled a few years back,
What was a "bad" gift, in the pollsters' minds? Some examples included, "cooking utensils, cleaning products, and a sticky tape dispenser".
Interestingly, highly educated women and women working in the legal profession had even higher requirements, with two thirds of respondents in those categories stating they'd dump their partner for poor present choices.
What about you? Would you end a relationship over a bad holiday gift? Have you ever received a gift that you deemed in poor taste and ended a relationship because of it? What did you get?
When Thanksgiving rolls around, it means the start of Meet the Parents Season - or at least it does for me and many of you, if my email inbox is any indicator, as well as my own personal experiences. A few years back I shared my Thanksgiving date disaster story (and encourage you to share your own date disaster stories). But my question here doesn't revolve around bad dating experiences, but rather, when you met the parents.
What time of year did you meet the parents of your current and/or past loves? Did the holidays push you into meeting the parents earlier than you normally would have? I'd love to hear your experiences by filling out the poll questionnaire, or if your situation doesn't fit the choices, by adding a comment.
X asks: "I've been with my boyfriend for a while now. Recently he told me that he doesn't care whether he is with me or not and that he doesn't care about me. I love him to bits but I just wish he would make up his mind and tell me straight if he wants to be with me or not. What shall I do or say to him?"
Bonny's reply: X, I think your answer is in the question. If your boyfriend doesn't care about you, why on earth would he be your boyfriend? Why is there even a discussion about what to do or say?
I understand that you love the gent, but please don't use that as an excuse to stick together, or get upset that I don't understand how you feel. I get many, many of emails every week from women like yourself who wail, "But I LOVE him!" as their reply to my suggestion they look at other options in their love lives. Now you haven't said as much in your email, but the fact that you're asking what to do leads me to believe you might.
So. Instead of saying, "I love my boyfriend. What can I do or say to make up his mind about me?" Try instead, "I love myself. What can I do or say to honor that?" I believe that once you sit down and ask yourself that question, the answer to what to do about your boyfriend not caring is obvious.
Readers, what do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions or similar experiences by commenting.
It's rare that a week goes by where I don't get asked by a reader through the dating forums or dating advice request form whether or not I think their love will last. Thing is, its a very difficult question to answer - especially since I'm only getting as much information as the reader cares to share. Plus, even a healthy relationship can get thrown depending on a variety of factors no one really wants to plan for: the passing of a loved one, losing a job, a sudden health crisis, etc.
Still, there are some common factors that can help guide us towards seeing whether or not a love relationship will stand the test of time. Things like trust and levels of commitment, how friends and family view the relationship, the manner in which you communicate with each other and how long you've been together for instance. So I've compiled these known markers into a quiz to help those of you asking along the path: Will Our Love Last? Quiz
But what about you? What do you think are the markers for a long lasting, healthy relationship?
While researching and talking to other dating aficionados about the newly introduced dating boot camp, I spoke with the gent who runs 100RedFlags, a dating blog that discusses "...the small things that women do that drive men away." [Note: The 100RedFlags site is not work-friendly, and uses language that may offend some readers.]
I plan on covering dating red flags in the boot camp eCourse, so of course I wanted to take a closer look. Many of the red flags already listed I agreed with, such as She Wears a Slutty Hallowe'en Costume. Seems fairly straightforward to me.
But once I looked a bit closer at the red flags listed, I started to get confused. "She Was Homeschooled," and "She's Run More Than One Marathon?" "She Carries Condoms In Her Purse," and "She's Never Smoked Pot?" Really?
I disagreed with the blog owner, and sent him a note specifically regarding the last "red flag" (not having smoked pot). Here's his response:
"...absolutely it's a red flag, and believe it or not one of the ones that we've posted/talked about to date is most commonly met with approval amongst guys. It could mean rigid views of the world, it could mean a conservative stance on societal issues. I won't belabor the issue, but maybe will just make it clear that these things are all representative of potential character and lifestyle flaws that would inhibit a healthy, successful relationship. It's quite possible one could say she's never smoked weed and yet can sit across the table on a first date and it'd never even be a thought - but without enough evidence the assumption could still be there and there may never be a date two if women aren't aware that some men may take issue with it."
In the hundreds of men I've worked with and coached with regards to their dating lives, and the thousands that have emailed me throughout the years sharing their opinions, not once have I heard any of these as issues. The ones I most commonly hear from gents focus on larger personality traits that some might find stereotypical (i.e. acting like a princess or being bossy), or frustration with what they feel is a 'bait and switch' (i.e. how you presented yourself isn't really who you are). Rachel Greenwald, who wrote the book, "Why He Didn't Call You Back: 1000 Guys Reveal What They Really Thought About You After Your Date" (Buy Direct) found similar themes.
But, you tell me: what are your dating red flags? Do you agree with the ones presented here, or do you have a differing opinion?
For those of you participating in the dating boot camp, looking for today's installment, here you go: Dating Boot Camp Day One.
A reader asks, "We had a great first date two weeks ago, but I haven't heard from him since about a second date. When will he call?"
I've answered with a bit more breadth in When Will He Call For A Second Date, but basically I'll say that after two weeks if the guy hasn't even touched base with you its time to move on. I'll also recommend picking up a copy of Why Didn't He Call You Back by Rachel Greenwald (Buy Direct). In it, the author shares her findings regarding 1,000 men, and why they didn't call their dates back. I think almost every single woman will find herself in at least one of the categories listed, and it might provide you with some constructive feedback as to what to do in the future.
What do you think, dear readers? When, or will, this gent call for another date? How long do you wait?
A 2011 blog post by HowAboutWe (Buy Direct), a dating site matching people based on their date ideas (i.e. How about we... go snow golfing?), got me laughing. In it, writer Chiara Atik discusses what her single friends and family members are thankful for this year. My favorite included a bit of salty language, but still one I think many single folks can admit to feeling at some point: "I'm thankful I'm no longer dating an ****." Replace the stars with any number of negative words and you'll get the jist.
The article reminded me of a time when years ago, I gave a workshop about dating, and in turn getting over your ex. At one point I asked everyone to come up with something they were grateful for in relation to their dating life. Most of the folks had something amazing to say, such as they loved the time and money they had now to spend on themselves, or even small things like they didn't have to leave the seat down or up. One man waited until the very end, and said quietly, "She left me for my best friend." No one said anything for maybe 30 seconds, until a woman next to him gently touched his shoulder and said in the same tone of voice, "Well, then you should be grateful she's HIS problem now!"
We all got a laugh out of that, and it helped diffuse the tension. Every year when I think of Thanksgiving, I think of that story, my Thanksgiving date disaster story, and now this HowAboutWe blog post.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving in relation to your dating life, whether coupled up, single, or somewhere in between?