A New Book!

Otherwise known as what happens when I get bored.

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I’ve been meaning to write this one for a long time now.  It’s a follow-up to Don’t Be a Douchebag.  That one was to basically help men navigate the whole online dating world so they were actually gettting dates instead of getting shut down because they were coming off as douchbags.

This one is how to make it from a woman saying she’ll go out with you to actually getting to a second or even third date.

There’s a section in there I was feeling a little bad about.  (Maybe a few.  It’s sort of a take-no-prisoners approach to dating advice.)  But then I was on Twitter today and saw a woman describing an encounter she had on the subway with a guy who hit on her and when she moved away started calling her a bunch of names, followed her off the train, and threatened her.

That sort of thing happening is sadly common.  And it shouldn’t be.  A woman saying she’s not interested shouldn’t immediately lead to some guy calling her a bitch or ugly or threatening her with violence.  And yet…It happens.

And for every guy out there legitimately looking to meet a woman, he needs to understand that that kind of shit is what he’s up against.  Which is why certain things are not acceptable.  (Like showing up at a woman’s work to plead your case when she turns you down. NO! DO NOT DO THAT. EVER.)

So, anyway.  New book. If you’re struggling with getting through that first few dates, it might help.

Audio will be coming at some point but my narrator just had a kid so we’re working around that, because priorities.

Can You Get Out of the Friend Zone?

This came up this weekend.  I was talking to a guy friend of mine who recently started dating a woman he’d been interested in who hadn’t been ready to date him when they first met and so he said that he believes that a guy can work his way out of the friend zone over time and that this notion that you can get stuck in that role isn’t really true.

I tend to disagree.

I think if two people who are both single meet that they will soon end up dating or probably never end up dating.

Generally when you hear of two people dating later on in their friendship it’s because something has changed.  Scenarios I can think of include:

  1. Throughout their friendship one or the other of them was not single.  So the attraction was there but couldn’t be acted upon at the time and when they both finally found themselves single and in the same location and with enough time and head space for dating, they did.
  2. There was some sort of misperception when they first met.  For example, the woman thought the guy was an ass, but somehow she came to see that he wasn’t.  Chances are these two were not willing friends.  Maybe they had mutual friends in common and kept getting thrown back together until she could see that the guy was actually nice.  Only then was a relationship going to be possible.  (Think Pride & Prejudice)
  3. There was a break in the friendship.  They met, were friends, likely one was attracted but the other wasn’t (because that often drives the formation of a friendship), they moved apart and lost touch, met again, and bam! attraction and dating.
  4. They were both single but one or the other wasn’t ready to date at the moment they met.  (What happened with my friend.)  For example, one had just ended a serious relationship or was planning on moving out of state or country.  (Although the moving thing doesn’t always prevent something from happening, it just makes it hard to keep going once started.)

Hate to say it, but this notion that if you hang around a girl long enough showing her what a nice, great guy you are or if you just buy her enough things she’ll finally see how wonderful you are and want to be with you is a fairy tale.

With the stories where you do hear of it happening, I’d bet almost every single time that if you dig deep enough you’ll find that the spark was there at the start even if it wasn’t acted upon.

Scenario 3 above is probably the only exception to that one.  And I would say it only works if the person changed in the interim.  Short guy from high school grows two feet after graduation and suddenly he’s a completely different person.  Or asshole from college loses his brother in a tragic accident and finally grows up and gains some emotional depth. (Although chances are the girl was always physically attracted to him even back then and just knew better than to go there).

So if you’re all hung up on someone and it just isn’t happening?  I’d say walk away.  Don’t try even harder to make them feel something that just isn’t there.

That will then free you up to find someone who can see what a great catch you are and wants you.

And if it’s really too hard to just walk away, then force the issue. Suck it up, tell them you like them, and see what they say.  Maybe yours is one of those very rare situations where  both people are attracted but neither one has the guts to start things and so you’re just circling around each other without ever realizing how close you are to dating.  (Keep in mind, this will likely fail, but at least you know and can move on with a clear conscience knowing you asked.)

Whatever you do though, don’t hang in there hoping for it to magically change.  If you get value out of the friendship, sure, stay friends.  But if you’re friends because you want more?  Nope.  Move on.  (Take it from someone who has been on both sides of that losing equation.  It’s a waste of your time and energy.)

Compromise But Don’t Settle

I have a couple of friends who’ve been on the dating merry-go-round recently and it’s not easy.  One is a woman and she really, really wanted to meet someone so she responded to the overwhelming number of e-mails she received and went on ten to twelve dates per week until she found one.  The other is a perfectly nice, decent guy and he kept sending out message after message after message trying to meet someone.

She didn’t give up when the sheer number of men she had to wade through was almost overwhelming.  (Because a lot of the guys just weren’t what she was looking for.)  And he didn’t give up when his first messages were met with radio silence.  (Because he’s a good guy, but he was pretty generic in his presentation and approach and that isn’t going to get you much of a response in the online dating world.)

They’re both now happily in relationships.  One is even engaged.

But…

I wonder.

Are they really both in the relationships they should be?  Or did they just get to the point where what they had was better than anything else they saw and settle for “good enough?”

Where is the line between realizing that someone isn’t perfect and settling for less than you really should?

I can tell when someone is madly in love.  You probably can, too.  I have a friend on FB right now making the most adorable comments and posts about her current boyfriend.  Those posts just scream love.  This is a woman who will either marry that guy or be with him long-term and is happy for that to happen. I’ve been friends with her on there for six years so I can SEE that she feels differently about this guy than she has any other guy in the last six years.  Another friend of mine was acting similarly a few years back and, sure enough, she just married the guy she was so over the top about.

Now, I realize that personalities differ and one person may never be the over-sharing, effusive, “I LOVE THIS PERSON” type.  I get that.  But when someone really is head over heels, there are signs.  Even little ones.  Like a smile here or a shared touch there.  There’s a sort of insular affection between two people who feel really strongly for one another.

And, with at least one of my two friends, I’m just not seeing that.

Which may be okay.  Maybe when you get to a certain age you stop trying for that type of love.  You just want someone you can go out with on Friday night and have brunch with on Sunday.  (Although I will say both of the women who were head-over-heels?  One is probably 42 right now, the other was 38 when she met her now husband.)  Maybe companionship is enough.

And that’s fine.

One of my friends and I talked a bit about this idea that no one is perfect and you have to accept that the person you’re with isn’t going to be everything you want.  And I agree.  I’ve fallen for guys over the years that weren’t everything I wanted and I was happy to let a few things slide for what they did have that I wanted.

(Hell, one guy I really liked didn’t even know how to play pool!  Hard to comprehend, I know, but he had enough going for him otherwise that I was able to look past that…haha.)

But as much as I agree with the concept, I think that there’s a point where you’re no longer accepting that no one is perfect and are instead giving up because it’s just too hard to find a great relationship.

I always figure to each his own, right?  If my friends wake up happy with where they are and who they’re with who am I to tell them otherwise?  I just…I hate to see people taking less than they could have because I also think it has a domino effect.  Two people settle for one another that means that the two people they would’ve been much happier with are now out there without them and maybe those people settle for less and so on and so on and so on….

So I guess where I’m going with this is if you are in a relationship that isn’t everything you could possibly want (which is most of us), at least make sure that it isn’t because you’ve just kind of given up and settled.

Online Dating Basics: Men vs. Women

Wow, I am a really bad blogger because it’s been a couple months since I posted last.  But I have an excuse.  I was writing two new books.  Online Dating for Women: The Basics and Online Dating for Men: The Basics.

They started out as one book but then I realized that men’s and women’s (and we’re talking straight men and women here) experiences online dating are so different that it was just annoying to try to write about them in the same book.

In what ways you might ask?

Well, how about photos?  OkCupid does these great studies of their users every once in a while and came up with completely different recommendations for profile photos for men vs. women.  Women are supposed to smile into the camera, men are supposed to brood away from it.  Who knew?

(Although, I do wonder a bit about the advice for the men.  Maybe men looking for casual and fun are supposed to look like distant assholes.  But if you want something more serious, then I think looking nice and approachable works, too.)

Then there’s communication.  I think we all know that even in this day and age men are responsible most of the time for initiating a new conversation and that women can join a site, do next to nothing, and get messages.  A man who did the same would find himself very lonely.

Even the red flags I thought of were different between men and women.  Men had to watch out for the drama-filled types and women had to watch out for the “all women are bitches” types.

It’s kind of crazy when you start thinking about it.  Which I hadn’t, because the first time I tried online dating must’ve been about fifteen years ago.  But I had a friend try it for the first time this year and her comments reminded me of all the little things you need to think about that first time around.  Like choice of site, user name, what photos to choose, what to say, who to respond to, how to respond, when to agree to meet in person…There are a lot of moving parts to the whole thing.

So I wrote a book about it.  As you do.  Currently up at Amazon (including for free borrowing through Kindle Unlimited.)  It’ll go up everywhere else in a couple more months.  Probably in time for Valentine’s.  Always a fun holiday for the unwillingly single.

Online Dating and Safe Sex

As I’ve mentioned, a few of my friends recently ventured into the world of online dating.  As a seasoned pro I gave them advice.  What photos they might want to post, the disappointments they might face, exercising a little caution before meeting a complete stranger they found on the internet live and in person.

I thought I’d covered it all.

Seems I needed to play mom to a teenager and have a little chat about safe sex.

My one friend spent about a month getting ready for online dating.  She debated which websites to use, which photos to post, thought about what kind of guy she wanted….and yet she forgot to prepare for what would happen if she was successful.

Sex.

Because  let’s face it, unless you have strong religious, social, or moral beliefs that lead you to abstain from sex, once you’re dating someone you’re going to have sex with them.

So prepare for it.

If you’re a guy, buy condoms you’re willing to use.  And get an STD test so you can provide it to your partner if she asks for it.

If you’re a woman and not already on a form of contraceptive, get on one.  And in enough time for it to matter.  (You can’t start the pill on Monday and have sex on Tuesday).  And women should still get some condoms because the pill or a diaphragm or an IUD aren’t going to protect you from nastiness.  And get tested, of course.

And then USE THE CONDOMS.

Condoms do no one any good if they’re sitting in the drawer by your bed while you’re having sex.

And if you can’t bring up the subject with the person you’re about to have sex with then you probably shouldn’t be sleeping with that person.  And if they don’t bring it up with you, ask yourself how many other times they’ve been in that situation and just gone ahead without having the conversation.  And what that might mean to your sexual health.

It’s not fun.  It’s not sexy.  But neither is getting an STD.

I still have these horror images from 8th grade sex ed class (this is back in the AIDS lecture days) when the teacher drew a little picture of two people in bed and then started showing the math of how many people they were really in bed with when you take into account the other people each of them had slept with and the other people each of those people had slept with and the other people each of those people had slept with and….Yeah.

Aside from STDs, you also don’t want to get pregnant with someone you barely know’s kid.  I know a girl who just had a very cute little baby girl with a guy she really can’t stand because of one night of not being careful.  Her life from here on out is not going to be easy.

And relying on “I’m getting older, so I can’t be fertile enough to get pregnant that easily” is STUPID.

If you’re in your mid-30’s and trying to conceive you have about a 60% chance of getting pregnant in a year of trying.  And since the odds go down with every month you try (since the couples who don’t get pregnant right away are more likely to have fertility issues), let’s ballpark this and say that in the first three months of a new relationship when you’re bonking like bunnies you probably have an 80% chance of getting pregnant.

Those aren’t odds I’d want to play with.

You sleep with someone once without protection, okay, fine.  We make mistakes.  (Might get pregnant or an STD even that once, but fine.)

You keep sleeping with someone without protection?  Come on now.

So, if you’re venturing out into the dating world, along with new clothes and a new haircut, get some condoms.  At a minimum.  And use them.

If You Love Someone, Disappoint Them

Most of us when we meet someone we really like do everything we can for them.  We’re on time for dates, we ignore work calls while we’re with them, we agree to go out for African food instead of suggesting a good old cheeseburger, we watch that independent black and white film instead of the latest blockbuster…

Well, okay.  Scratch those last two.  At least if you’re me.

But most of us do try to accommodate the ones we love (or like).

Problem is, sometimes the other person is in it for different reasons than we are.  We’re busy falling in love while they’ve just found someone accommodating so figure why the hell not go along with it.

See, as long as you’re making someone’s life easy and doing everything they want, it’s not too hard for them to put up with you.  You only really find out how someone feels about you when you say “no” or don’t give them what they want.

So I say disappoint them.  Let them down.  Say no every once in a while.

If they really care for you, they’ll recover from it.  They might take a moment, but as long as it’s a one-off occurrence they’ll work through it and accept the fact that you can’t be what they want you to be 100% of the time.

If they’re just in it for what they can get out of you, they’ll throw a little hissy fit or walk away.

That’s okay.  Let ’em go.  Because if they can’t handle a little compromise every once in a while they really weren’t the one for you.

 

Online Dating: Give It Ten Weeks

I had dinner with a friend the other night.  She’s currently over the moon about the new guy she’s seeing.  It wasn’t easy for her to get there, but get there she did.

I have another friend I touched base with recently who is also in a new relationship.  Last time we’d touched base he was just beginning the slog which is online dating.

Yes, slog.  There are some folks who find online dating exciting and exhilarating.  All those new people!  But most of my friends just want to be in a happy relationship with someone that interests them and the process of getting there can be downright painful at times.

Both of my friends found their new relationship through online dating.  One on Match.  One on eharmony.

Both worked it–hard.  We’re talking five to six dates in a week early on.  Maybe more.

Both had their down moments when they wondered whether it was really worth it.

But they pushed through.  And they both found someone.

Now, it helps that they’re both normal people looking for normal people.  And two is a pretty small sample.  But I really do think that most people if they really try hard (respond to most messages, send messages, agree to lots of in person dates) and are in that mid 60% of folks range, will find someone given enough time.

And, given the random anecdotes of my friends who have succeeded at this, it takes about ten weeks.

So, if you’re doing the online dating thing and struggling to get through, keep going.  It can work out.  And if my friends are any example, it’s pretty darned awesome when it does!

Sunk Costs

If you want a good laugh, you should really listen to this.  It was on the radio the other day.  One of those bits where they call a guy up and offer to send roses for free on his behalf to see if he’ll send them to his girlfriend or the woman she suspects he’s cheating with.

(Note to men: Why do you still fall for this crap?  I’ve heard these types of shows in at least four or five radio markets, so it’s not exactly new.  If you’re cheating and a stranger calls you up and offers to send a woman free flowers on your behalf, say no.  Or send them to your mother.)

Anyway, this one is funny because it turns out the woman is absolutely crazy.  It’s worth listening to for that alone.

Somehow this woman failed to comprehend that it’s not okay to break into a guy’s house after he dumps you and leave him a note about how you can get to him anywhere.  And that it’s also not okay to then call a radio show to see if he’s “cheating” on you two months after he dumped you.

But that’s not why I’m linking to it here.  I’m linking to it because this woman’s rant reminded me about the concept of sunk costs.

Basically, it’s the idea that people make bad choices because they think about what they’ve already invested in a situation rather than looking at it as a new choice each time.In money terms:  Say you’d paid $500 to fix your car and now you’re told that it will cost another $500 to fix it.  You may be more likely to spend that $500 to fix it rather than selling the car and walking away because of what you’ve already spent on the car.  It’s not logical, but people do it all the time.  That first $500 is gone.  It’s spent.  Nothing you do now will get it back.  But, because you spent it you’re tempted to stick with the car and keep trying.

Well, let’s bring it back to relationships.  The woman on this call is talking about a guy who is supposedly cheating on her and has done so in the past and she explains why she’s staying with him by saying, “…he met my friends, he got the friends’ seal of approval, he’s been over to my house…I’ve let him meet my parents…”

She was focused on the wrong things.  On what had come before.  On all the time she’d spent on building this relationship.  She couldn’t let go of it.How could she possibly walk away from a guy who was cheating on her when she’d invested so much into the relationship already?  She’d put herself out there.  Let him meet her friends.  Let him meet her family.  Told him she loved him.  (An honor heretofore reserved for her dad and Jesus.)Problem with that approach to dating is that you can “but I’ve already…” your way right into a really shitty marriage.

Happened to a friend.  She knew she shouldn’t marry the guy.  But the wedding hall was booked and the guests were invited and everyone knew she was getting married.  So, against every instinct in her body, she married a drug-addicted abusive asshole.

Don’t do that.  If your gut is screaming at you that something is wrong in a relationship stop thinking about sunk costs.  Stop thinking about “but I’ve been with him for five years” or “but we have a house together” or “but we have kids together.”

Those things matter, but not in that way.  Not in an “if I stick with this a little longer it will finally be what I want it to be” sort of way.  They matter in the “we’ve built something together and have a special, shared connection unique to us” sort of way.

Does that make sense?

Don’t hang in there just because you’ve spent so much time and energy on it.  Hang in there because it’s worth hanging in there for.

 

You CAN Do Too Much

A recently-divorced friend of mine has started online dating recently.  And this weekend she went on a stereotypical “perfect” date.

The guy took her to a really nice restaurant, brought her nice flowers, took her to a movie after, held her hand, was a gentleman…

Checked all the boxes, right?

Sounds like he’s on the right track, doesn’t it?

Nope.

I expect my friend will blow this guy off in another couple of dates.  And, from something he said on his date with her, it wouldn’t be the first time that a woman walked away at the five to six date mark.

So, what’s this guy doing wrong?

He’s doing too much.  (Of the wrong things.)

Now, granted,  I was not on the date.

But I’ve been on those kinds of dates.

And what I’ve found is that certain guys try too hard to check the boxes and fail to date the woman in front of them.

For example, turns out my friend was pretty uncomfortable with this guy she doesn’t know that well insisting on holding her hand through the whole movie.  “Insisting.”  Her word.

Now, if you’re watching a movie with someone and you start to hold hands and it just naturally continues?  Fine.

But if you try to force intimacy by holding hands with someone.  No.

And, this is just me, but generally any man who brings me flowers on a first or second date is someone trying too hard and is generally someone who doesn’t read women that well.

Flowers are a shortcut.  They’re virtually meaningless at this point.  Unless we’ve had a conversation about a specific flower, they’re a throwaway gift.  A knee jerk reaction.  “I’m a guy, you’re a girl, so I give you a dozen roses.”

(Not to say that certain women don’t expect men to deliver on those clichéd expectations.  That’s the challenge of dating.  You’re always dating an individual not a gender.  So what doesn’t work for me, works perfectly for another woman.)

This guy probably does well on getting second and third dates.  He’s articulate, successful, has manners.  But at some point women probably start to feel a disconnect.  Because the more he gets to know them and the more he should start to tailor activities and conversations to them, the more he probably continues to follow a one-dimensional, standard approach.

(Like on The Bachelor when one of the final girls finally realized that the guy didn’t care about who she was or know her at all.  He wasn’t dating her, he was just dating a generic woman.)

So, if you feel like you’re this guy, what do you do?

Back off a bit.  Try to find out what interests her.  Don’t give everything at once.

You know how they say that men like the chase?  I think women do, too, to a certain extent.

So, treat her well.  Be a gentleman.  But if she expresses an interest in a cheap Asian restaurant, go there instead of the expensive Italian place.  Or do some completely random activity with her instead of your standard date/movie.

To me, the key takeaway is that there aren’t a set of boxes you check to succeed with a woman.  You have to go with the flow.  Read her and react to her.  That’s how all good relationship work.  Give and take.  Back and forth.

Maybe You Don’t Need That In a Relationship

I was thinking today about two of my friends who are very happily married.  Well, at least as far as I can tell.

And it occurred to me that neither one would’ve married their spouse if they’d stuck with what they though they needed in a relationship.

The first girl is Catholic and married a previously divorced guy.  They actually broke up at one point for almost a year because of the religion issue.  But she finally realized that all of the things they had in common were far more important than sharing a religious belief.

That’s a tricky one.  My dad was religious and my mom wasn’t and I always noticed that it was a challenge for them.  So, I’d never recommend that anyone dismiss a religious difference as a non-issue.  But my friend and her husband have made it work so far.  And my parents did, too.

I think it’s easier when one person has a clear religion and the other doesn’t.  Because the person with the strong religious belief can apply that to the children and the other spouse can just let it go.  And there’s no debate about which one’s religion is “right.”  There’s still sadness on the part of the person who believes that the person they love can’t “see the light.”

But, it does seem doable.

My other friend had a notion of what her married life would be like, which involved being a stay-at-home mom living in a very expensive area.  The man she married doesn’t earn as much as she would expect her husband to earn in order to allow that to happen, so she will be working when they have kids.

It really was a matter of concern for her.  I think it’s a large part of why she ended her prior relationship.

But she and her husband are so good together that I’m glad she got past that.  She would’ve missed out on a lot of happiness if she’d let him go because of money.

As a matter of fact, I know another woman who did lose out on a wonderful relationship because the man she was with didn’t earn as much as she wanted him to.  He was in a public service job and it just didn’t pay as much as she thought her future husband needed to earn.  He had his own house, he was crazy for her, she was crazy for him.  But…

She just couldn’t get past that vision of what her life should be.

Last I heard she’d moved to New York and was dating a hedge fund manager.  More like the life she thought she wanted, but I’m pretty sure she passed up on a really great guy that would’ve made her very happy.

It’s sad that sometimes we can’t get past our hang-ups.  That we can’t let go of that one vision of what our life has to be like and instead embrace what we’ve found.

There are some things I MUST have in a mate: kindness, respect, intelligence, sense of humor, a reasonable level of attractiveness.

But all the rest?  I think there’s a lot more wiggle room there than most of us allow.

So, if you’re with someone and it all feels right except for one little thing.  And that little thing isn’t a serious addiction or anger issues or horrible financial management or serious mental health problems or something else that means you’re blind to who they are as a person, maybe let it go.  Maybe you don’t need that in a relationship.

Maybe you have the exactly right person in your life if you’d just let yourself see it.