Online Dating

Love You, and He'll Follow Suit

97394494_s.jpg

Years ago I made a commitment to myself to buy as much Organic food as possible. Even though I felt the pain as I looked at my grocery bill, I considered it a long-term investment in health. My housemate watches me eat Organic food day after day, so the other day when I asked her to grab me a spice from the store, she comes back with the top of the line Organic version.

At first I thought how nice of her not to skimp and come back with the cheapest one. Then it occurred to me that since she sees me buying Organic food all the time, she just followed suit and got the kind she assumed I’d buy for myself.

I thought about how this concept works when it comes to dating and relationships too.

The truth is we are informing people all the time about how to treat us, by the way we treat ourselves. And this is never more obvious than in the process of dating.

Let’s say you’re out with a guy and it’s getting late. You have to get up early the next day for a work meeting. You told him that you need to be in bed at 11pm. It’s 10:30pm, he asks you if you’d be up for catching a last drink at a great place just down the block.

How do you handle this? - Do you stick to your own curfew knowing that you’ll feel much better the next day? Or do you notice how excited he is to show you this other place and cave into his energy, telling yourself that you’ll just let your curfew slide this time?

The thing is, that if you already mentioned earlier in the date that you want to be in bed by 11pm, it can feel like he’s rude because he’s inviting you to something after the time you said you needed to go home. But the fact is many times men will test a woman early on in the dating process, whether consciously or subconsciously.

He’s testing her to see how she sticks to her own boundaries. He’s finding out what she will allow him to get away with and what she won’t. He’s watching you to inform him how to treat you.

So I wanted to share a few key areas that you can focus on practically loving yourself during (or in preparation for) the dating process:

  1. Share your honest Preferences - You may want to be an easy “go with the flow” kind of woman and there are times that is a valuable trait. But if he’s inviting you to go 4 wheeling in a mud field and it seems like something that would give you a panic attack, by all means, tell him that and communicate that you’d love to spend time with him, but that you’d feel better with X, Y, Z kind of activity. He will learn to consider what you enjoy and want to make you happy.

  2. Speak Up About Your Feelings - Did he shut down something you said in front of your friends that made you feel hurt? If it’s bothering you and getting in the way of relating with him, you should speak up! At an appropriate time, share how what he did impacted you and how you felt. Sometimes people in our lives unintentionally hurt us and they get to know how they can love us by sharing how their actions impact us. He will learn to respect and care for your feelings.

  3. Don’t Give All of Your Time and Energy Away Too Soon - Let him earn a place in your life. It can be tempting when you find someone that you are very attracted to or could talk with all night, to want to spend hours and days with them right away. But the fact is you give trust to every other person in your life over time. Make it no different with a guy you just met. He will learn to honor your time and value your sharing from your heart.

  4. Guard Time for Yourself - Often the activities you love are part of what draws a man to you. Whether it’s an afternoon coloring with a warm cup of tea or traveling to the beach with your best friend each year. Don’t let the whirl of emotions in getting to know a new man keep you from the things you love. He will learn to cherish your differences and encourage you in what makes you shine.

Making choices like these to love yourself—-even minor choices like honoring your own bedtime—will challenge him to step up to treat you well. Also, when you treat yourself well certain men you date will not be up for the task (because they’re operating as self-centered/low-value/disinterested) and they’ll quickly show themselves the exit when they realize you won’t tolerate bad treatment. And that’s one less man you need to filter out yourself!

If you find it challenging to honor yourself in certain areas of the dating process and would like another person in your court, I’m glad to set up a time for a conversation here.

Advantages to Slowing Dating Down

110800769_s.jpg

“Jeff just liked you. Send him a note.”

I open this email and look at his picture. I like the color of his olive skin. It stirs my interest to read his profile. “Kayaking, coffee shops, days out with his daughter, hiking, looking for something serious. Love to travel and would like to have you with me?” I see a picture of him and his daughter, she is cute and he looks tender. He reports to share my faith and likes drama movies too. So I click the pink heart.

He asks me how I’m doing.

I tell him.

He wonders if I’d like to have coffee.

We have a good conversation, he leans in for a kiss after walking me to my car.

I’ve just opened my time, energy, heart and lips to a complete stranger and after we say goodbye there is a 50/50 chance that I’ll see him again. And this, my friends, has become a common experience in modern dating.

With many people using online dating to find a relationship, it can be a lot of pressure to figure out if someone is for you from a profile and a 60-90 minute visit. If you were to meet someone in the workplace or at an acting class every week, you’d have the chance to observe how a person interacts with his cube mate or how they express their creativity, without necessarily sizing them up for romantic potential right away. Maybe you’d have a few conversations with them over time and sense romantic tension building. The question of whether or not you’d go out with them may be a slow build towards that moment when he nervously asks you at the water fountain if you’d like to continue talking over dinner Friday evening.

I think online dating can be a great tool for finding a relationship, but the nature of it tends to speed things up. So if your goal is to create a lasting relationship, built on a good foundation, then one tip I’d give is to find ways that you can “slow things down” and mimic some of the real life dynamics that have been happening for centuries in offline dating.

Here are five ideas for how this could look:

1. Avoid Stream of Conscious Texting - If you met online and exchanged numbers, it can sometimes be easy to start an ongoing chain of texting with this person throughout the day. So you can end up giving a large chunk of your concentration and energy to someone who hasn’t yet proved to you they’re worthy of your time. You can always get back to him later. Let them wait for an answer. Or tell them you only like texting to firm up plans. Everyone has their texting style, but consider avoiding on-going texting.

2. Spread out Your Dates (especially at the beginning) If you have a full life, this one will probably happen naturally. But if your weekend happens to be wide open on the Friday you meet, consider waiting a while to meet again. Give yourself sometime to feel into how you felt with the person. Give them space to contact you again, so that you can really gauge what their interest level is when you’re not around.

3. Do Different Kinds of Dates and Sometimes Include Others As you know it’s good to get to know a person in a variety of settings; out kayaking together, watching them give a presentation, going out with their friend group, visiting your grandma, a walk on the beach. etc. Mix it up and see if the the way they interact with you is consistent with how they treat others. Anyone can put on an act to treat you well if the two of you are always alone watching Netflix.

4. Choose a Person Who Has Their Own Life Too If you or the guy you’re dating is always available because they are still looking for a job or they have very few outside interests, it can be hard to slow things down. This happens because if nothing else in your life is making you “light up!” then it can be very easy at the beginning of a relationship to want to be around this person all the time, because the attraction to them makes you feel alive. Be filling your life with things that light you up and find a person who does that in their own life too.

5. Communicate Your Boundaries When you know what will or won’t work for you in the dating process, especially early on, it can grow attraction with the right person and it can filter out those who aren’t for you. As you communicate what time you are available until, how much you will or won’t talk about your Ex, or what your physical boundaries are—that person is getting to know the real you and you are setting a precedent for your own value in the relationship.

The reason I believe there are advantages to slowing down the dating process, is that I’ve seen many relationships go South when they started fast and furious. In the heat of physical attractions our brains tend to go offline. In not communicating our boundaries in an effort to be easy to be with, people take advantage. Those who are seeking a relationship, right NOW!, are often coming from a more desperate place—-maybe struggling with co-dependency, trying to forget an ex, or wrestling with addictions. So with a slower build towards something serious and lasting, you are more likely to rule out those who won’t respect you and vet those who are able to sustain a relationship for the long haul.

If you’re at the beginning stages of dating right now—consider taking a few actions to slow things down—and meanwhile keep focusing on your own life. Let me know how it goes!

If you struggle to slow things down or would like support navigating any stage of your relationship journey, reach out here for a complimentary session where I’m happy to support you with an outside perspective and new insights for the process.

Confusing Our Catch

36129070_m (1).jpg

At a business networking meeting I took my turn to give a one liner introduction. “I’m a Dating and Relationship coach that helps women over 30 to uncover their blocks and become authentically themselves so they can attract a good man.” Everyone in the group nodded at me. I felt self-conscious for 30 seconds wondering if anyone there even fit that demographic.

After the meeting I introduced myself to the man next to me with salt and pepper hair and kind eyes set in a face that told me he had a few years of life experience under his belt. After chit chatting, he seemed comfortable enough to ask, “So when you mentioned that you help women to be ready to attract a man, I’m wondering if you can help me to know what are the signs that a woman is ready?” I gave him a few ideas and then he said, “Yes, I know those things are encouraging to me when I see women doing them. But I’m interested to start dating and the problem is that I don’t find many noticeably available women doing those things.”

Boom. I felt like in that moment he was speaking for many men. Here was a man actively looking for an “open net” so he could swim up for “the catch”, but there weren’t any open nets in his view.

I asked him more about what he saw.

He talked about women looking busy, on their phones, body language closed down, not necessarily wearing rings to know if they are taken.

I appreciated his viewpoint, because I think this gave me some insight as to why I so often hear single women say things like, “There aren’t any good men that I’d want to date approaching me.” “I often attract the unavailable men.” “I don’t know where to find the good single men in my town.”

I know that a lot of my single friends and the women I work with—-if you asked them—would say of course they want to be in a good relationship! However, I believe some women are sending out signals that don’t match what they want.

We are confusing the man we want to catch.

Some women argue though, “Well shouldn’t the man be the one with the balls to overcome any obstacle to take the risk to approach us?” (Rom Coms have taught us well)

Yes, men do well by taking a risk.

But the thing is,

Good men who want to respect you, look for an opening.

So how are we sending confusing signals? Well here are a few that seem so commonplace it’s almost funny to mention them.

  1. We are very busy with little time for anyone. - We race from one activity to another with very little breathing space for conversation in our day.

  2. We can do it ourselves. - We like to feel independent that we can do it all, but this leaves little opportunity for a man to lend a hand to open a conversation.

  3. We say no, when we mean yes - whether it’s our body language or a literal no, we can take the safe route to not go out with a guy because we distrust who he is

  4. We love our phones - I’ll say no more.

  5. We smile less - Especially in a big city we are less likely to connect in general to the people around us and instead we mind our own business, missing out on the simple pleasures of acknowledging someone, especially someone cute, with a smile.

So how can you start welcoming in better catches? Well, maybe it’s time to start sending clearer signals. By smiling more, making eye contact, opening body posture, putting down your phone for a few minutes, it may feel a little counter cultural these days. But you will see that those good men looking for an open net, find you noticeably standing out far above the rest!

If you’d like more support and feedback in this specific area, join my FB group here. This month we’re doing fun exercises together to get us to send clear signals of availability in public. Also, my upcoming group course will be a great way to really take the time to explore how you can authentically captivate a good man.

To Date Online or Not, Is that is the Question?

shutterstock_1067926880.jpg

When I ask single women who want to be dating why they aren’t, I often get a reply similar to, “Well, I’m not interested in online dating.” I sense that underneath this response is the assumption, “If I don’t want to do online dating then my other option is to sit pretty and wait, right?”

And I agree, that online dating is one of the most accessible and direct ways to currently find available singles these days.

And I’d like to suggest a better question.

First off, I understand that the “how” of dating has lots of challenges these days.

I get that there is a lot of potential for the “ew” factor with online dating. “How can I be judged so quickly by a few pictures?” “How do I respond to invitations for a hookup?” “If I only hear from 1 or 2 guys that completely aren’t my type, what does that say about me?”

After experiencing a few of these “snags” in online dating, especially in your tender heart space, it’s easy to presume that continuing online dating will only bring more “ew” without certainty of any “ahhh.”

I also get that in person opportunities have increasingly decreased because of the way we now spend a large percentage of our time in the day in front of some form of screen. We go to work or work at home, run some errands, do some activities, but for many of us we see the same few people everyday. When we are in public at various social events, many of us check our phones in lieu of striking up some small talk.

All these are factors make online and offline arenas challenging to connect with good dates.

So if you want to be dating and you’re not, I’d like to suggest a better question:

Is the door to your heart open to love? (Sounds like an 80’s pop song, right?)

But I’m serious, I’ve been around the dating block for a lot of years and I’ll be honest with you, there are a lot of times when I do online dating as a distraction and my heart is not actually open to welcoming a serious partner into my life. There are also times when I go out to meet people socially and I answer their questions as if I’m dragging a ball and chain behind me. My posture in the method led to undesired results.

I may be taking the right actions to meet potential guys for a relationship, but my heart is as closed down as the bank at 6pm.

If you ask yourself whether your heart is open to love or not, your answer starts to focus on your state of being and it’s less tempting to focus on the “methods” for why things aren’t working. (ie. Online dating sucks *&^%$#)

So I want to offer you two considerations for the week (if you want, take out your journal or chat with a friend about them):

  1. Is your heart open to love? If not, how can you explore the reasons why you’re keeping it shut?

(This is not always easy, it requires giving ourselves time and space to process or maybe do more serious work like forgiving a past partner.)

2. Then if and when you are open - ask yourself - Are you willing to play with and be adventurous about the possible ways of meeting someone?

With your heart open it’s easier to see online dating as more of an adventure or a tool that will give you experiences that could be fun or help you to grow—no matter what the result of the date is. Also, you can open up your range of experiences in real life that lead you with a curiosity towards men who will find your open heart fascinating.

With an open heart it’s easier to see many experiences (positive or negative) as part of the journey towards the relationship you desire, the same way that you expect to see briers or weeds on a hike, but it doesn’t detract from the overall beauty of nature you experience.

If you find yourself in a place where your heart feels closed and would like help to explore that, I would love to chat with you for a 30 minute call to see if I could be a good fit to help.