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?
If you are anything like me, as soon as Halloween is over I start thinking about and planning for the holidays. I'm also a huge gift giver, in that I love to find the perfect something for everyone in my life that I care about - no small feat. Oftentimes I'll make something for the truly special people, which of course takes time. But there is no way I could make something for everyone on my list, and therefore why I'm starting early this year.
With that in mind, this Holiday Gift Giving Etiquette article should be of use to those, like me, who are planning their holiday celebrations early. It details the kinds of gifts to give your sweetie depending on how long you've been dating them, including casual relationships and couples that are living together. Then, it links to specific gift ideas for each relationship stage.
What are your thoughts on holiday gift giving etiquette? When it is appropriate to give a gift, why, and how much should it cost?
Although most of the articles linking to the BBC's recent story that wearing red 'boosts attraction' state that attractiveness is the quality measured, the study focused more on calculating how much money a man would spend - given $100 - on a date with a woman in a blue or red shirt. Generally, the men spent more on the women wearing red.
The researchers who conducted the study at the University of Rochester felt that the response could be linked to ovulation signaling in primates, where the females of the species' privates become engorged with blood when primed to procreate. Human studies on ovulation and attraction aren't as readily available, although I do remember the fascinating book Sperm Wars (Compare Prices) to have presented more than one theory on the subject; essentially that human females behaviors' change during ovulation, mostly to increase their chances of creating the most viable offspring.
So how does this research relate to singles? I'll let the author of the study, quoted in Scientific American, say it for me:
"I'm not going to let my 16-year-old daughter wear red, let's put it that way," says study author Andrew Elliot, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. "I do think a female who's interested in a male and going on a date ought to pull that red shirt out of the closet, because most likely it will make her more attractive to him."
What do you think? Has red changed how people interact with you? Will you wear red more often - on a date, or even a first date - based on this study?
Is there ever a good time to take a break from dating?
In a word, yes. Sometimes our priorities change, life throws us a curveball, or we start getting bitter, angry and/or jaded with the dating process. Re-evaluating whether or not we're ready to date again can take a while, especially with busy lives, kids or other things that make our lives colorful yet, well, jam-packed.
Have you ever taken a break from dating? If so, why? When and how did you know it was time to start dating again?
In 2002, the then-editor of Psychology Today, Robert Epstein, PhD, shared a bold, daring experiment he was in the midst of undertaking: finding a stranger to write a book with, called, "The Love You Make: How We Learned To Love Each Other, and How You Can Too." The pair would create a love contract, complete with a commitment to date no one else, undergo intensive counseling, and read a tremendous amount about love, dating and relationships, with a focus on arranged marriages and those that actually create love.
I've searched everywhere for the book or some mention of the results and discovered there's now a TV show in the works instead. Regardless, one quote from the aforementioned editorial gave me pause:
"In 1998, some friends of David Weinlick, a graduate student in Minnesota, set out to find him a wife. An advertising campaign generated 25 applications, and then a party was held where he interacted with the five finalists. His friends selected the winner, and the unlikely pair was married on the spot. Ridiculous, yes? Funny thing is, they're still married and doing fine, and their second child is due in November."
As a single woman, I have to admit these kinds of stories get me sitting up and taking notice, and not just at the adventurousness of the participants. Is romantic love, the lifelong kind, the one that helps us stay together through thick and thin, a learned skill - and can any of us use this kind of "ridiculous" data to better our own relationships? What do you think? Would you participate in this kind of research or experiment if it helped you find love, or at the very least, "taught" you how to love?
Reference: Editor as Guinea Pig - Putting Love To the Real Test by Robert Epstein, Psychology Today, June 2002.
Scott wants to know what he can do about a woman he's recently reunited with after a 30-year absence. She can't decide between dating Scott - knowing he wants something long-term and potentially lifelong - and the casual, going-nowhere relationship she's been in and out of for years.
For the details (as well as my in-depth answer) take a peek at Why Can't She Decide Between a Casual Fling or Something More? In the meantime, what would you recommend to Scott, a gentleman who can't fathom why a woman wouldn't choose a long-term and stable relationship over an ongoing fling? Have you been in a similar position? What did you do?
So then why not use this same idea and integrate it into our everyday lives? The concept is an integral one to the pickup artist culture (although they call it peacocking), where the person trying to attract someone wears or has on at least one conversation piece.
Which isn't to say I think you should go all out and become something you aren't. But at the same time, if you can inject some of the fun and frivolity of Halloween into your day to day life, and it allows you to meet someone truly special, why wouldn't you try it and see?
Have you ever used a prop to attract someone? Did it work? Why or why not?
Sarah asks, "My boyfriend is a really bad kisser. I don't want him to think I'm avoiding kissing him, but... How do I tell him without offending him, or show him how to kiss without really showing him?"
Bonny's answer: You don't say specifically why your boyfriend is a bad kisser, so I have to assume he's doing something that you don't enjoy. Too much tongue perhaps, or maybe he doesn't understand the tempo or rhythm of a great kiss. Either way the fix is fairly straightforward: make a game out of it. Tell your boyfriend you want to try something new, and ask him to follow what you do - a mime if you would. Ask him to close his eyes, open his mouth slightly, and be flexible with whatever comes his way. Then kiss him the way you like to be kissed, teasing him gently if he starts doing his own thing instead of taking your lead. "Nuh uh! This is my version of Simon Says, and Sarah says close your eyes and relax!"
You could also try different methods of kissing to get some new ideas for the both of you to try. Make a night of it even, attempting to mimic the kisses in your favorite movies, or teach each other how to give a 'screen kiss' just in case one of you decides to become a famous actor and, well, you know. Take kissing quizz, make a list of all the different types of kisses there are, or tell him you read about a new kissing technique you'd like to try out. Point is, have fun with it, and be open to learning something new yourself. And when your partner's bad kissing turns into something divine, make sure to moan or otherwise display your pleasure so he knows without question he's on the right track.
Shawn asks: "I've started college and there's a girl on my dorm floor that I really like. We don't have any classes together, but we talk all the time in the common area. It's at the point where I go to study in there just to see her, and then we end up talking for hours. The last time I saw her, she went on and on about some guy she had a crush on, but then found out he wasn't old enough to drink so she wanted to move on. Am I in the friend zone, or is there some way I can ask her out?"
Bonny's answer: There's an easy way to find out if she's open to dating you, and that's by asking her point blank if she'd like to go on a date. The next time you see her, try something like, "I had a great time talking the other night. How about we do it again on Thursday, but this time over dinner?"
It's simple, easy, and lets her say no if she's not interested, doesn't want to date someone who lives so close to her, or is still really interested in that other guy and just wanted your opinion on the matter. If she says no, you can assume it has nothing to do with you, and it saves you both from feeling embarrassed when you inevitably run into one another again. If she says yes, you know she's interested - at least a little bit. But if you don't ask at all? You'll never know, and you'll slide deeper and deeper into friends-only territory, with no hopes of ever getting past conversation starters alone.
There's a Pick Up Artist (PUA) "rule" that you have to talk to a woman you're interested in within a few seconds of seeing her. The longer you wait, the more difficult the introduction gets and the less chance you have of getting the girl. Now, I'm not asking you to start studying to become a PUA, but I am suggesting you keep this one tactic in mind when talking to this girl again. The longer you wait, the harder the approach, and the less chance you'll have of dating her.
What do you think, dear readers? Would you give Shawn different advice, or do you agree with what I've said?
Confused City Girl asks, "I have been seeing this guy for about 4 months now whom I met from a Craigslist ad that I had posted stating that I was looking for an awesome boyfriend. This guy replies with an awesome e-mail and was very cute too so I make plans to go out on a date with him. We clicked immediately and have been seeing each other since then. We have been to concerts together, spent many nights together, planned a vacation next month, I have even met his family and they love me.
A while ago I noticed that his Facebook and MySpace claim he is still single. I didn't let it bother me too much but I did feel a bit hurt. Recently I have noticed that his text messages are less frequent and much less romantic than they had been. He has also been claiming to need a lot of alone time because he has only been out a long term relationship a few months longer than knowing me.
Last weekend I was at his apartment like normal and went on his computer which is also normal. I noticed in his browser that there was a new saved link that was for OKCupid and I decided to click on it. Well, it automatically signed me into his account that was full of new pictures and a ton of e-mails back and forth with numerous women. He has corresponded with well over 50 women since meeting me. He also sent out an e-mail saying he was looking for a woman to wine and dine and possibly pleasure while he was away on business. He has recently met women for drinks and has told me nothing of it and also told me many of nights we aren't together that he is just hanging out at home or playing music (he is in a band) and so forth.
I was very upset and devastated, so I called him on the phone and tell him to come home if he can and he does. He tells me that he just wants to make sure that I am the right one for him and that he does not have the same feelings for any of these women like he does for me. He says he had planned on dating a lot of different women before he met me. He says that he probably loves me and definitely adores me and that he is almost ready to just be with me. He does not feel like he did anything wrong because he never specifically told me that he was not dating other people. I will admit that I assumed that he wasn't because he seems so into me.
My question is this: do you think he is just wanting his cake and to eat it too or do you really think he just wants to date around to make sure he is doing the right thing with me? Do you think will stop this seemingly obsessive online dating when/if he does decide to just be with me? I am so very confused and very hurt and just wanting advice. I am very much in love with this guy and had planned a ton of nice things for his upcoming birthday as well as the vacation we are supposed to go on next month."
Desiree, I feel your pain, and so, my answer will be quick and to the point: if he's not exclusively dating you and can't agree to it now, then it's time for you to take a huge step back. Sure, you didn't have the exclusivity talk, but you both can take responsibility for that one. If he's still wanting to play the field - and it's okay if he does, just as it's okay if you want a commitment - stop treating him like your boyfriend. Cancel your vacation together and any other big plans, and then let him know that if or when he's ready to start being exclusive with you, you can talk more. Until then, stay busy, lean heavily on your friends, and let him explore his harem solo.
Julian asks: "I have been dating my girlfriend for almost a year now, and since the beginning we have been having sex. All of a sudden though, she tells me that she does not want to "disrespect" her body and that she does not want us having sex anymore. I feel like she should not have made such a big decision that affects both of us without even talking to me about it beforehand. I love her very much and to me the sex was a way of showing that love. It seems to me that if a relationship was sexually active, and that factor is suddenly taken away, the relationship can't be expected to be the same. Any advice?"
I agree that your relationship with your girlfriend needs to change, as what sounds like a big part of the way the two of you share your affection was through sexual intercourse has now been removed from the equation. However, I think that the question is something different than, "Should we continue having sex?"
Yes, it would have been much easier and kinder if your girlfriend to have talked to you about what was going through her mind before she made a decision. When you enter into a relationship with someone, part of that process is agreeing that any major decisions that affect the both of you are discussed, first. Someone gets offered their dream job 400 miles away, an ex invites you to their wedding, or who to spend the holidays with are all conversations better had, together, before any decisions are finalized.
Sex however is a tricky one, because for many people it is very difficult to talk to their partner about their needs and wants. Using the word "disrespect" tells me that your girlfriend has been struggling with this for some time and needs you to understand her dilemma. It wasn't easy for her to tell you about her decision, but I'll hazard a guess that it had very little to do with you. Rather, some outside force is "telling" her that sex is shameful, bad or not to be shared with someone she isn't married to. Problem is, it doesn't sound like you know which category her decision falls into.
Ask her why she feels sex is disrespectful to her body, and try to really listen to what she's saying. I know it's difficult to hear from the person you love that they want to stop an important aspect of your relationship, but if you want to make things work with this woman, you are going to have to bite your tongue (and pride) and find out the reasons why she feels this way. When did this become a problem, and why? What is she hoping to gain from not having sex with you anymore? Is all affection off limits (kissing, touching, hand holding), or just sex itself? Has she talked to a mental health professional, medical expert, sex therapist or someone in her religion and/or family about her decision?
Once you have a better idea as to what the reasoning is behind her decision, you can sit down together and talk about how a sexless relationship will affect the both of you, and whether or not it is something you can go back to. I know of women who have stopped having sex with their partners to prompt a marriage proposal, others who have found a religious calling, and yet others who were feeling depressed and didn't find sex at all satisfying anymore. Whatever her reason, you'll have to weigh your feelings on the matter, see if the two of you can come to a compromise (or at the very least get some professional help on the matter), and if not, determine whether or not your relationship can evolve into something new or if it is time for the two of you to part ways.
A few years back, I worked my way through The Rules of Love by Richard Templar (Buy Direct). In it, Templar outlines what he feels are the rules everyone must follow in order to find and keep a happy romantic relationship. Some of his rules are contentions, but none more so (in my opinion) than #46 - Your Partner Is More Important Than Your Kids.
More important, you say? Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of single parents around the world today, and see what their reaction is. I'll hazard most of them would blanch at this suggestion, much less agree with it. And frankly, the first thing that came to mind for me when I read #46 was a horrible story where a single parent did rank their partner over their kids: a woman - whose boyfriend was in jail for stalking her and uttering threats - was told by one of her children that they didn't like said boyfriend. The Mom in turn defended the boyfriend's actions, saying he was a good, solid man. Not the best of thought processes for sure, but I'll hazard many single parents think of a similar type of situation when discussing who has priority in their lives.
As I read Templar's rule however, I softened a bit. He wasn't saying that single parents dating shouldn't spend less time with their kids. Rather, he says that a single parent's children will take up the brunt of one's time. I quote:
"... it's crucial that your partner is the primary focus of your life, even while your responsibility and time commitment to the children is greater. I'm not saying you should love them best because there's enough love for everyone and it's a very different kind of love. But never lose sight of the fact that having children at home is temporary (albeit long term temporary) whereas your partner is for life."
Templar is obviously speaking of folks who have made a lifelong commitment to one another. But I'm not sure if what he's suggesting should apply to everyone... or maybe he has a point. Should our partners - once we've hit that magical dating period where the kids are involved and everyone's lives are deeply intertwined - be our #1 focus to keep a dating relationship burning bright? Or are the rules of love not the same as the rules of dating?
Related: The Perks of Dating A Single Parent
If you've read this blog for a year or two, you'll know that I love Halloween. In my opinion, it's one of the best times of year to meet new people because there are so many opportunities to dress up, attract attention and flirt the night away with people you wouldn't normally meet.
Being coupled up at Halloween is fun too; it's a project to create a couples costume, one that covers both of your personalities well and allows your partnership to shine. Obviously many of you agree, as my Halloween costumes for couples list is by far the most popular page on this site at this time of year.
I change and add ideas to each list every year as readers respond and I get new ideas, and this year is no exception. I also get submissions from readers and PR folks that just don't fit into a particular category, but that I feel are too special to be missed - so here are those unusual suggestions, tips and ideas (and I'll add to them as I receive new ones too):
Trayce, a single woman who has passed the 30year mark, commented that she wanted to dress up for Halloween being classy yet subtly sexy. She feels that many a single gal gets a bit too open with their outfits, so she's decided to, "wear a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind piece by mask artist Jeff Semmerling with a black sheath dress. I won't even need jewelry because his bejeweled masks are so spectacular." Last year she wore something similar, "a magnificent mask that was covered in Emerald green Swarovski crytals with skinny jeans and a black turtleneck. Everyone approached me."
Several folks, including a gent named Phil, suggested readers look at trends from yesteryear to get Halloween costume ideas. "Vintage clothing has become very popular in the past few years, and many shops sell men's stuff as well as women's - 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s clothes could make great costume ideas for a couple." He also suggested looking online at Modcloth and LAVintage for those without other options locally, and KD Dance shared that they have several options that are vintage-inspired as well.
What do you plan on wearing this Hallowe'en? Feel free to share links to photos, ideas or suggestions, or take a peek at my unusual but fun lists below for even more ideas and inspiration.
With everyone back in school, and the labor day long weekend behind us, there's a definite crispness to the air that wasn't there even a few days ago. Fall is fast approaching, and it always makes me wistful for date ideas that take full advantage of the romance in this changing season.
I've got some (what I think are) really great Halloween date ideas, however that's still a ways away - although not too early to start thinking about your couples Halloween costume or singles Halloween costume.
There's one that really stands out for me as a favorite fall date idea, and that's hitting a local farm that hosts a corn maze, getting lost, and working with your date or partner to try and get out. What's your favorite date idea to share with your partner during the fall months?
Tina asks: "A guy I've been dating has just told me he loves me (3 days ago). Today I get a call asking if I know about computers. I called back and said no, not really. He tells me his computer is not working, someone in has "hacked" it and I was the only person in the house! I told him I would never do that. He won't believe me."
Thanks for your dating question Tina. It's simple but a good one, because it covers how much you can trust someone early on in a relationship - a concern that comes up often with readers just like you.
First, some basic information. A person can be anywhere and hack into a computer. It's much more common for hackers to target folks through the internet, and that's not even touching upon the rampant viruses, trojans and other nasties one can attract just by surfing the web or clicking on a link. Accusing you of hacking seems odd, and tells me that your partner needs to educate himself a bit about how these sorts of things work. About.com's Guide to the Net for Beginners has a huge category devoted to such information and discussions: Viruses, Spyware, Hacking, Scams and Identity Theft and an excellent article on the topic called, "Help! I Think I've Been Hacked!"
Now, you can't change your partner's behavior or how he reacts to his computer falling prey to a hacker. If he fails to believe you, there's little you can do to convince him.
Therefore, it's time for you to review your relationship. Unfortunately, love and trust are two very different, and separate things - and his actions are saying either he's lacking trust in you, is paranoid, or both. A loving partner might get upset considering the circumstances, and they may even get mad and accuse you - however love means listening to your partner and hearing what they're saying. Most reasonable folks, after calming down a bit, would realize their accusation unwarranted and apologize. From the sounds of it your partner is in a very different mindset.
You need to ask yourself some difficult questions now, ones that involve how you feel and what you want. Do you want to be with someone who automatically assumes you want to do harm to him? Can you continue a relationship with a person that fails to trust or believe you? If trust is an issue now - three days after professing his love for you - does that create any red flags for you? Can he ever trust you? Is this trust issue really about you, or are the walls finally coming down and his true self shining through?
These questions are for you to answer, because I don't have enough information, however you must investigate within yourself further to determine the next steps. Convincing your partner that you're trustworthy is outside of the issue. Focusing on yourself and your needs, and whether or not your guy is the guy to provide them, is right at the heart of it.
What say you dear readers? What would you do in this situation? Do you have a suggestion for Tina?
In one of the Seinfeld episodes, a characters' tell that someone was worth dating was if said date leaned over to open the car door for the person driving -- before they had a chance to get their keys out and open the door themselves.
I thought it was cute at the time, however my 'tell' has always been a bit different: when someone is at their worst. An easy one is if your partner is sick, and there's a wide range of behaviors that fit the bill, like the guy who never returned my calls after I told him I had to leave town to attend my fathers' funeral.
So right now, I'm sick. And not just a sniffle, either. This is the kind of flu that makes you feel like you're inhaling mud. The housebound kind, even if you are desperate for Kleenex. The kind that, if you were dating someone, you'd call and ask them to kindly grab you some tissues along with maybe, perhaps, some soup? Thanks baby, you're the best.
Sadly, like many of you, I am currently single. Even if I was in a relationship however, I'd have to temper my cold with the status of our connection. Ask too soon and the person you're dating sees you at your worst early on - which (in my personal and professional experience) leads some folks to bolt as soon as the favor is finished. Alternatively, I've had one relationship where my date getting sick solidified our bond; I fed him homemade soup, scented the air with lung-cleansing aromatherapy, played soothing music and pressed cold compresses to his forehead. Five years into that relationship he would have rolled his eyes if I'd ever doted on him like that, yet mere months in it was magic. I still look back to those hazy, dare I say romantic days, with fondness.
What about you? Do you have a timeline as to when you'll allow your date to see you sick? Is there a 'good' time? Or, do you have a different 'tell' for when you know someone you've just started seeing is someone worth investing more time into?
I walked into a local retail store a while back, and the owner struck up a conversation with me. "What do you do for a living?" she asked. When I answered, her eyes lit up and she started to tell me about a friend of hers whose 6-month-long boyfriend had popped the moving-in question the night before. Her cautious response - could she think about it and discuss it more later - was met with anger. Eventually, her guy decided to recant his offer because she "didn't immediately jump at the suggestion".
Here's the thing: sure, there is something to be said for being impulsive, acting in the moment and letting passion reign. Telling someone "I love you," is a leap of faith, and asking someone about moving in is a similar proposition. You have to know the person really well, or at least know they really need a place to stay. (Ok, I'm joking on that last one, although it's not that uncommon either in today's economic climate).
So although I understand the gent's reaction and disappointment, I didn't understand his recanting the moving in offer. Perhaps he felt he had jumped the gun a bit and was embarrassed, but I didn't hear enough of the story to be sure. I did however applaud the woman in the equation for standing her ground. She wasn't bullied or coerced into making a decision she wasn't ready to. And frankly, it's doubtful the gent had never though of her moving in before the conversation took place either; he likely stewed it over for some time before he asked. So why shouldn't the person moving in be offered the same courtesy? Moving in is a huge decision, especially after only six months of dating.
I've got to stop by the store again to hear what the outcome was of the moving in conversation, but I'm curious as to what you all think. Do you think there is a right way to ask the moving in question, and if so, what is it? Do you think this man was in error, and do you feel the woman in the relationship did the right thing?
MartyMoj in the dating forums asks: Recently I asked my long term (13 year) live in girlfriend to accompany me to the local small town theatre to watch a movie. We had never been to this theatre before and both of us were looking forward to an outing together.
In line at the concession before the movie started, I made several comments about the price of the concession snacks. I found them to be rather pricey. Once we were seated while waiting for the movie to start, I made comments again regarding the high prices of the snacks and admission to the movie. My girlfriend asked me to stop with the comments and to just enjoy the movie. I did.
I chose seating within the front six rows of the theatre, in a row that was empty. After we were seated, six or seven young junior high girls came and sat in the row directly behind us. Several times during the beginning of the movie, the girls put their feet up on the back of the chairs, which I asked them to not do. They also chatted loudly and giggled non stop about their weekend plans and boyfriends during the first half of the movie. Several times my girlfriend asked me to ask them to stop chatting and giggling, or to find us other seats. I did look around, but there didn't seem to be many other seats available. I did ask the young girls to be quiet. That quiet only lasted for a few minutes and then they continued. I resigned myself to just ignore them and watch the movie.
About half way through the movie, my girlfriend got up unexpectedly and left. I thought that she had gone to the bathroom so I continued to watch the movie. She did not return. When I got home I learned that she had left the theatre and walked home. She is very angry with me stating that she feels that I should not have been complaining about the prices and that I could have done more in dealing with the young girls, like going to talk to the theatre manager. I didn't want to make a scene and thought that I had done as much as I could. Now she will barely speak to me and refuses to go anywhere with me. I think that she was very rude in just leaving me at the theatre and I don't feel that I have done anything wrong. After 13 years I think I should have the right to express my displeasure with prices and certainly she could have spoken to the girls or the manager herself. Am I being unreasonable?
For the most part, the first dates I've gone on have taken place on any day other than a Friday or Saturday. Not because of any rule that I'd chosen to follow, but rather because the dates felt more casual and with less pressure should things not click as anticipated. Still, I thought I was in the minority with this idea, and had never had someone specifically say to me, "Can we not do this on Saturday night?"
So I was interested to read the Sun Herald's piece regarding the shifting of date night, especially with the 20- and 30-something crowds, stating there is:
...a changing dating scene where singles save weekends for buddies and bar-hopping...
... dates during the week -- common for the first few dates of a relationship -- are casual, free of anticipatory jitters and offer an easy out if the date doesn't go well.
I wholeheartedly agree. It makes sense to me: I want a first date to be a relatively short period of time to get to know someone enough to see if a second date is in question. A weekday date therefore - such as lunch or live music after work - would be perfect.
How about you? Do you have a first date rule or preference when it comes to what night is date night?
In the July 2009 edition of Cosmo magazine, 70% of their readers admitted it was important to marry their soulmate, but more that 50% of the respondents thought it would be impossible to find that person. I'm not sure how many of you feel this way, but I'm of the opinion that that's an awful lot of pressure to put on someone you're dating.
Is there really only one person out there for all of us, or are we able to connect deeply and intensely with more than one human being? Fans of polyamory think it's entirely possible - even while in a relationship and/or in love with someone else - and the experts interviewed in the Cosmo (Buy Direct) article I read also felt the concept of one soulmate didn't exist in reality. If anything, those interviewed for the article felt that people who believe in The One and one and only, were doing themselves a disservice by either staying in a relationship that wasn't a good one for them (because they'd convinced themselves there were no other options), or were so picky that they'd overlook their soulmate because they didn't immediately fit.
How about you? Do you believe you'll find your soulmate? Have you found your soulmate already? Do you think soulmates exist? Why or why not?
Ashley asks: "My boyfriend told me he never wanted kids. It wasn't very surprising when he told me that his ex wife stopped taking birth control pills so she could get pregnant. It also wasn't surprising when he told me that he signed all of his parental rights for his own child away and got a divorce. The thing that surprises me is that we met through an online dating site. He knew from my page that I had a child that lives with me part time, yet he pursued me anyway. I do not try and force him to spend time with my child, but at the same time it would be great if he did. Is this relationship worth staying in?"
It depends on what your definition of "worth" is, as well as what your relationship expectations are. If you'd like your boyfriend to one day become your husband, then yes, I'd say you and him need to have a talk pronto. If you want him to be a more active role model in your child's life, once again, the two of you need to discuss your wants and needs. But if he's already been married and chosen to divest himself of all parental responsibilities, then its highly unlikely he's going to change his mind now - although of course, anything is possible.
There is also the chance that this man may see your relationship a means to an end: he needed to rebound, learn to trust again after such a horrible betrayal, and/or (maybe) see that raising a child isn't so bad. He likely doesn't see your relationship as being something lifelong however, but rather one to help him through a difficult time in his life with someone he cares about, and with someone that doesn't pressure him into dealbreaker situations.
Have you spoken with your boyfriend about the situation? Casual and low key would be best here, because the conversation is weighty for the both of you (but for different reasons). When the two of you are alone, ask him what kind of role, if any, he sees himself playing in your child's life. Tell him outright you aren't looking to pressure him into anything, you'd just like to know to avoid confusion, as well as what would be the best way to go about interactions with your little one, if at all. Because frankly, if he doesn't want any role in your child's life, it would be best for you to stop all contact between them now to alleviate any serious issues down the road, as well as to re-evaluate the relationship between the two of you, and whether or not you have a future together or if you're ok with the way things stand.
A survey published in tandem with Elizabeth Noble's novel - The Way We Were in the UK and When You Were Mine in the US - found that men fall in love faster, dwell on their ex's longer and have experienced more unrequited love than women. In contrast, the women in the study were more likely to seek out former partners and felt happier about their relationships decisions and where it landed them in life. Almost a quarter of the survey participants admitted feeling like they'd never experienced romantic love yet, and both genders agreed their first love was the hardest to recover from.
Some of this makes intuitive sense to me, and other parts I already discovered having written about dating and relationships for over a decade as well as from my coaching clients. I did however find one surprising tidbit, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. In Noble's study, the men generally knew after one date that they'd found The One (with 25% stating they knew within seconds of meeting), yet the women took around the six date mark to determine whether or not they'd found a long term partner. I couldn't find any of the nitty gritty details of the study, other than it asked UK singles about their experiences with lost loves, past loves and first loves. Still, I'm curious as to whether or not you agree with the findings: do men fall in love faster than women?
AskMen spoke to 70,000 of their male readers, asking them a slew of questions about their girlfriends, sex lives, and dating preferences. One of the more shocking results (in my opinion) was the question regarding their partner's weight - namely, if their partner gained weight during the relationship, would they end things?
The AskMen readers were split almost 50/50 between a yes/no answer, with the no vote winning by a slight 4% margin. Surprising? For me, yes, but it also leads to a host of other questions. Would women asked the same question answer in the same vein? How old were the men in the survey? How long were these men in a relationship (if at all) and had they ever actually ended a relationship because their partner gained 'too much' weight? How much is too much weight to gain before ending things?
So dear readers, I'm asking you: how much is too much weight? Is a relationship doomed when one of you gains weight?
Toto asks: "I have been dating this guy for 5 weeks now. The first two weeks were great but by the 3rd week I began to notice that there was a distance building between us. He was calling less often and we were spending less time together. Last week I asked him if there was a problem and he said that he felt that the dating was moving quickly towards a relationship/commitment when he was not really ready for one. He said that he was experiencing financial difficulty at the moment and he didn't want to get into anything serious unless he was sure his career was headed in the right direction. I really want this to work because I feel a connection with him and I think that this can be really special. But he is making it more and more difficult for me to get through to him, and I don't want to lose him. What should I do?"
Miss Toto, you are coming on too strong for this guy that you've barely started to date. You're asking for way too much, way too early, and your gent has been kind enough to say so. Him telling you what he needs is a great thing - now all you have to do is hear him, instead of continuing to try and "get through to him". He's made up his mind, and no amount of cajoling on your part will change that. If anything, it'll make him run for the hills.
Let's break down what he's told you so far:
- He's under a lot of stress with his job and can't commit to anything while he's working things out;
- He feels things between you are moving too fast;
- He's not ready for a commitment or a relationship right now; and
- He's not able or willing to spend as much time with you as he did in the first two weeks of your relationship.
To me, your answer here is clear. Continue to push for a relationship and you'll be left in the cold. Now, you may not have said outright that a relationship is what you're after (to him or to me), but that message is still coming across loud and clear. And if that's the impression I'm getting, then what do you think the man you're dating is hearing?
Take a step back and do as your gent has requested. Stop putting so much pressure on the relationship to 'be something' right from the start, and just enjoy dating again. Plan some fun dates together, and give him the space and time he needs. I'd even suggest you start dating other people if the two of you aren't exclusive, following a plan like The Four Man Plan (a bit racy but fun) or Love in 90 Days (tamer and very thorough). You might be surprised at how he reacts to you taking a step back as he's requested, and either way it will give you a better idea as to whether or not the man truly can be special to you, or not.
Related: Does My Boyfriend Want Space?
There's a relatively new trend in dating spheres these days, one that takes people's DNA and matches them via smell, immunity and/or biochemical matchmaking. The creators of such dating services, such as GenePartner, ask users to pay a fee ranging from one hundred to several thousand dollars, take a DNA sample, and then match singles with other users in their databases using complex matching algorithms, primarily taking into account one's immune system.
I was interviewed on this same topic in 2009 by the New York Times. Blinded By Science In The Online Dating Game touches on some of the issues and debates regarding these kinds of programs, although it focuses more on online matchmaking science a la eHarmony and Chemistry.com. What the article didn't touch on was the pheromone side of the science of matchmaking, namely the use of a scent that supposedly makes folks irresistible to others.
Personally, I've used used pheromones to attract people, and tested them while on a date as well as randomly. In both instances, the people whose company I kept either mentioned the fragrance, or reacted differently to me than they normally would have. But I still have to wonder if the use of these pheromones masked my natural scent - and thus messed with my own personal 'DNA compatibility', similarly to how women taking birth control pills choose dramatically different men (from an immunological perspective) than when they were Pill-free.
But what if a dating company took these types of 'dating science' and blended them into a real-world application? Dial Body Wash tried to do just that in a speed dating extravaganza, where the women were blindfolded and the men wore bathrobes. Nine men and women 'met' one another where some of the men used Dial's new pheromone-enhanced body wash beforehand. Author and Matchmaker Janis Spindel was also attendance, assisting the singles to connect during the event.
Did it work? Well, I was asked to keep specifics private, so I'll just say that many of the participants were very happy with the experience, and the night may have led to people wanting to get to know one another better.
Have you ever used pheromones to attract a someone? Would you attend a 'smell dating' event? Does smell bear into your attraction to another person? Have you ever noticed that the Pill has changed who you're attracted to, or what features you find the most appealing?
Related: Does the Pill Decide Who You Date?, Why Women Stay Still and Men Move During Speed Dating Events, What is the Law of Attraction?, Physical Attraction Makes Us Less Able to Make a Good Impression.
The Meetcha Live blog once talked about divorce being "catchy" (see: Have you caught the divorce bug?) yet I hear more about 'taking a break' than anything else these days. The problem is, most folks are confused about what taking a break really means, even if they're in that stage of their relationship, or even suggested it.
One reader summed it up for me nicely: "Taking a break means not cutting ties to each other, but postponing the relationship temporarily to see where things are at." I like the definition, other than the 'see where things are at' part, because it's still vague and fails to list specifics.
To me, taking a break means taking a step back from a relationship that has yet to meet one or both partner's needs, and reviewing how the relationship fits into their life picture over the long term. It's about re-evaluating or redefining the relationship and removing the stress-filled aspects the relationship itself temporarily.
The problem with 'taking a break' is that few people actually define what it means for their relationship. Does it mean one or both of you see other people? Do you contact each other (like texting), or do you really take a break from interacting on all levels? When does the break end, and how will either of you know it? What outcome(s) are one or both of you hoping for from taking a break, and do both parties know it?
The only book I've read that tackles this touchy subject is one I've talked about briefly: Don't Break Up, Make Up by Dr. Bonnie Weil (Buy Direct). In it, Weil suggests that couples take a break to save their relationship, and outlines specific requirements to ensure everyone's needs are met. For those of you currently taking a break or considering it, I highly recommend picking up up for a read.
But what about you? Have you ever taken a break? Why? What happened? Was the outcome positive, or worth it to you? Why or why not?
I've found myself a tad brokenhearted of late. Whenever that happens, I usually crave hard-hitting, raw songs that really resonate with how I'm feeling. If I can stomp around to it while walking about getting some fresh air, it's usually a winner in my books.
A couple of CDs in particular have helped me through heartache in the past, namely Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill and Low Millions' Ex-Girlfriends (although lead singer Adam Cohen's debut CD Cry Ophelia also has some appropriate tracks). There is something about their lyricism and gut-wrenching honesty that I find not only refreshing but comforting. Yet other friends of mine prefer songs that offer a bit of softness; something gentle and kind that we can cry to, remember with fondly, or otherwise pamper ourselves while coping with a breakup.
What breakup songs have helped you? Do you have favorites that you lean on when the going gets rough? Why those songs?
Joe asks: "I am 34 and dating a 44 year old woman. We met in kinda questionable circumstances as she was still married and living with her husband. Two weeks after we started to see each other, she told me that she was going to meet some friends in another state for the weekend. One night in a drunken spillage she told me that she really flew there to meet and have sex with a 20 year old.
I knew that she was married and I was wrong but I thought that I was the only other guy. She is divorced now and wants to have a serious relationship with me but the fact that she flew away to have sex with a 20 year old boy kinda bothers me. I tried to talk to her about as I do feel that it is a bit sick to do so as she could be his mother not to mention that I feel that she found this boy more attractive than me in order to fly to meet him. She claims that she didn't think that we were exclusive but then I don't know why she did lie to me about it. Is it me or is this kinda sick? I feel that what she did is almost the equivalent of me having sex with a 10 year old. Advice please?"
Joe, your disgust at the age difference between this newly-divorced woman and her fling seems to be the most pressing issue in your advice request, but let's clarify first. If I read your email correctly:
- You met a woman who was married and started a sexual relationship with her, knowing it was wrong but did it anyway;
- Two weeks after meeting, she flew out of state to have sex with a man 24 years her junior and lied to you about it initially;
- This woman is now divorced and wants to pursue something serious with you, but you're hung up about what she did prior to a commitment, and how you feel it reflects upon you.
I'm hoping that reading all of that information in point form will help you see the situation for what it is: something to run away from, and fast. This woman refused to uphold the commitment she made to her husband, and she went out of her way to lie to you about the other, other guy. My question to you is this: why would you want to be with this woman? If she lied to her husband, why would she be honest with you?
Separate from this question is your comment about the behavior 'being sick' because of the age difference. Here's the thing Joe: she had consensual sex with an adult, albeit while she was married to someone else. Her behavior says she's impulsive and wanted a fling with someone younger, and she wanted something more substantial with you. While I want to avoid condoning her behavior, there's little 'sick' about the age difference between her and her fling.
Now, if you feel it's sick, again, I'm wondering why you want to be with this woman. Perhaps instead, you could invest the time to find a woman whom you can trust, and who avoids bringing this kind of baggage to the table.
What do you think, dear readers?
A reader emailed me the other day, asking me to remove all of their information from Ashley Madison, a dating site intended for married folks, or those already in relationships looking to cheat on their partner. This sort of question comes up all the time, I'm assuming because by reviewing a dating site, folks perhaps assume in turn that I work for the company. I should also note that this specific reader was really upset, as he says he's had zero contact with the site, fears perhaps his identity was stolen, and that it could easily destroy his marriage.
Because I get this question so often, let's break it down, bit by bit, and talk about what might have happened, and what you can do about it.
First off, know that some companies use your internet viewing habits to track what you're up to online, and then offer advertising that matches said websites. So, if you were watching pornography for instance, you may get ads for infidelity dating sites popping up after. In one somewhat recent case, a married woman was on Facebook, and her husband's picture popped up as a potential suitor for a dating site in an ad along the side of the page. Was the guy on the dating site? No. However he'd allowed Facebook to use his photo in advertising, and for whatever reason, Facebook thought this woman wanted information about dating sites. To my understanding this kind of practice stopped as soon as the complaint was very publicly made. Still, it's something to think about, especially since you chose to keep the details of why you believe you've got a fake profile on the site.
Next, if you know for a fact you've yet to visit Ashley Madison, and still your picture and personal details show up (or you're getting text messages, credit card statements showing you've paid, etc.), it's time to get the authorities involved. Speak with your cell phone provider, credit card company and local police, and file a report. Identity theft is very serious business, and you need to get right on that.
After that's all taken care of, get a copy of the report, and ask Ashley Madison how to send it to them. (Best place to start is at their Contact Us page). They'll let you know what your next steps are, and how to get your information removed as soon as possible.
Jennifer asks: "I need tips and hints for an attraction I have to a co-worker that's married. He's made comments to me and to others at work that things are not great at home. I don't want to be a home wrecker but I also don't want to pass on a chance with a great guy. We've only flirted with each other, nothing serious has been said or done between us."
Jennifer, I'm going to be frank with you, and I'll hazard a guess you won't like my response by the way you've phrased your question. But here it is: there are oodles of single, available, attractive, 'great' guys. Why would you put yourself out there for someone who is obviously, completely unavailable, and may well only remain that way?
It sounds like there is a lot going on behind the scenes with this gentleman, most of which already says a lot about who he is, and what kind of person he'll be in a relationship: he openly talks to coworkers about his personal issues (would you want him to blab about the two of you at the office?), and he is using the attraction between you to take the edge off of the unhappiness in his marriage (would you feel comfortable if he flirted with other coworkers when things were rough, if you ever got together?).
Even so, he's otherwise spoken for romantically and sexually. You've stated you don't want to be a home wrecker - so don't be. If his marriage ends, let it be for its own reasons, instead of outside temptation. If he does separate from his partner, and if you're still single a year after that happens, then you can think about acting on your attraction. Until then? Put him out of your mind, ponder why you'd choose someone who is unavailable, focus on the things that make you feel amazing about yourself, and work on meeting someone and/or attracting a guy who is ready and able to give you the kind of relationship you deserve from the start.