Friday, May 22, 2009

Dating Red Flag: Ya Lie Down with Dogs, Ya Get Up with Fleas

Did your mama ever tell you that? Did you ever have a questionable friend and your mama (or daddy) met them, and then later warned you against that friend?

My sister, while I was growing up, had many questionable friends. My mom would regularly remind her, "You lie down with dogs; you get up with fleas."

The Power of 'Company'
Basically, my mom was talking about the power of 'company'. Birds of a feather flock together and all that. We've all heard of people who were promising but 'fell in with a bad crowd', right? The power of the pack or mob mentality cannot be denied. And although we (mostly) become more resistant to it as we age, it is still true that we are likely to surround ourselves with people whose behaviors we, on the whole, approve of.

When you're dating someone, look at who their friends are and what the common theme of the prevailing attitudes among their friends are. This will tell you a lot about your potential partner's attitudes and beliefs.

Permissive Environments for Bad Behaviors/Choices
Be very careful if you detect sexism among your date's friends. And most especially be careful if his/her friends provide a 'permissive' environment. For example, do a lot of your date's friends seem to do drugs or not have jobs? That's a recipe for trouble. Those friends will definitely provide a permissive environment for drugs.

Permissive Environments for Dishonesty
Or perhaps you've noticed a permissive environment like this one: your date's friends cheat on their partners and have the attitude that whatever he/she doesn't know won't hurt him/her. Sure it won't. Until he or she finds out. Yep, that is usually when it hurts. Watch for this attitude among your date's friends.

Friends Who Are Usually 'Less than'
Another thing to watch for -- does your date surround him or herself with people who are perhaps less successful, attractive, or just generally people who would not be considered his or her equal in some way? Sure, we all have friends who perhaps are not as pretty or intelligent as us. But then it usually balances out in some way - perhaps we have one advantage over that person but they have another, different advantage over us. A healthy friendship is one in which friends consider themselves fellows, or another word for it would be equals.

Observation Gives You Information

Observing whom your date chooses to associate him or herself with will tell you a lot. As always, use your judgment. By staying observant and remaining rational about what you see, you can save yourself a lot of wasted time and heartache. As human beings, we have a desire to 'belong' or get the approval of others. For people who choose to cheat, lie, or do drugs, or have other bad behaviors, it is no different. They will seek to create an environment in which they feel accepted. That translates to choosing people who accept their cheating, lying, drug use, or other unacceptable behaviors. If you notice this about your date, feel it out a little bit and then trust your gut. Cut it off before you get sucked in too far.

As always, use your judgment and listen to your gut. Dating is part logic, part observation, and definitely part heart. But if your intuition is telling you something, never ignore it. More than ever, your boundaries are especially important.

Need some advice? Leave a comment and I'll answer you within the blog.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Not Your Usual Red Flags

Well folks here is a fun post. Today we're going to talk about red flags but not the obvious ones.

Everyone has different red flags in dating. Some people think treating the server either well or not well is a clue. Occasionally, yes. Some people think being miserly is. Yep, ok.

Today we're going to talk about verbal cues that let you know you've got a loser on your hands. When you're thinking about what to talk about on the first date, be sure to be also be thinking about listening on the first date.

Racism or classism dressed up as talking about 'reality'
Beware if your date ever talks excessively about one race or religion or anything being of lower standards. This indicates that your date needs someone to be superior to. Use your intuition, but if my date started talking in a way that let me know he/she thought an entire class or population of people was substandard, I'd be done. This person will say how they're just saying what others think but won't say, or they'll say that it's just reality and they're just giving voice to it, but that's not why they're saying it.

If your date is one of those folks who needs to have a reason to put down whole populations of people for any reason, it won't be long till you're hearing it about people you like, or even about you. This person needs to talk this way to feel better about him/herself. Stay far, far away.

This goes along with the first one up there about racism or classism. If your date even talks about their own gender disparagingly in a way that doesn't feel like just a joke or just something mild and nothing to worry about, then you've got the person described above on your hands.

If it's a man who talks about women like they're just looking for a meal ticket or is entirely too practical about male-female relations, or deems a woman as damaged goods dependent on how many folks she's slept with, run. You'll also want to be wary of guys who talk a lot about divorce courts favoring women. You don't want to deal with that later.

If it's a woman talking about men like they're all dogs, also run. 'Cause, umm, that means you're a dog too, or at least a dog until proven innocent. Fun times with insecurity. Woof woof.

Cheating is ok under certain circumstances, right?
Wrong-o. If you've got someone on your hands who thinks cheating is just about sex and unfulfilled sexual needs, then the case may be that you are chatting with someone who is blissfully unaware of how people tick or even how they tick themselves. This is someone who may someday justify cheating on you.

Rescue Alert
Watch out for someone who talks too much about rescuing women OR fixing others' problems.
If you've got a guy who talks a lot about rescuing women from difficult situations, and you feel it's a bit much, then it probably is. This person may be kind-hearted but if your intuition is ringing the alarm, then you are probably detecting their codependency.

I've had guys talk about how they're seeing red over their gal-friend's problems. Ok, that's fine, but why are you talking about this with me? It bothers you so much that you talk about it on dates with other chicks? Are you joking?

The same goes for guys whose date talks too much about fixing people. You'll know what's right and what isn't, and I'm encouraging you to listen to your gut. Want to be the next project? I didn't think so.

"Other people sometimes say I'm a jerk." "Sometimes I have a bad mouth. I don't mean anything though."
Oh really? This person probably is a jerk. This is one time when you should trust a stranger.

Don't ever discount it when someone volunteers this information. For one thing, they clearly believe it enough to repeat it and make it a part of whatever they think you should know about them. And secondly, people have called them a jerk that much for a reason.

I had one guy who told me that people had told him he was arrogant. I laughed it off. Guess what I soon thought of him? I thought he was arrogant. Duh.

What's important?
Remember, when someone's dating you, that's called courting. What is your immediate idea of courting? A person comes around trying to look as attractive as possible, trying to see if you and they could 'be' together. So, within reason, the things they are going to say to you on a date are going to be things they think are important - either just important, period, or these things will be what they think is important for you to know about them. So please pay attention.

The Point.

The main thrust of this post is this - listen to your gut. Don't discount those feelings like, 'umm, why is this person telling me this?' Those feelings are right. If something feels off, then it probably is off. Your gut knows better than you do. It's the honest part of you, the part that isn't blocked off by your motivations, fears, and rationalizations. So pay attention please.

You've got to use your judgment, but don't ever altogether ignore your gut. If you do, it'll be at your expense later.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dating and Boundaries: Figuring out What Your Boundaries Are

In my last article, I wrote about dating and boundaries, and why they are useful. In today's article, we are going to discuss how you can set boundaries.

First, remember that another word for boundaries is limits. You are going to decide in advance what limits you are will set in whatever areas are important you. Some areas that people consider important in dating are sex, time spent, and money spent. Another area is how fast you want things to go.
Some people think that setting boundaries is what you do once you're in a relationship. Wrong.
If you're one of those, you may be asking yourself constantly why you can't make a relationship work. It's because boundaries need to be set during dating. You need to know yourself well enough to know what will work for you and what won't.

One way to know that is also to figure out what your dating goal is. Are you looking for a life partner right now? Are you open to that? Are you just playing the field? For each situation, your boundaries will be different. They might be more stringent if you're in the market for a life partner and fast and loose if you're just playing the field. So, therefore, first figure out your object.

So let's get into the nitty gritty: how to figure out your boundaries.

In order to do this, you're going to need to ask yourself some questions and write down the answers. It's a process.

First, let's talk about sex.

Sex and Boundaries in Dating

Remember, sex isn't just the 'main event'. It's also everything leading up to it -- all physicality. It starts with hand holding, then might progress to a hug or a kiss, then making out and so on. So let's start at the beginning.
  • At what point do I hold hands?
  • At what point do I kiss someone?
  • Am I ok with kissing on the first date? If yes, under what circumstances?
  • Regarding kissing, what kind of kissing is ok the first time, what is ok the 2nd time?
  • What needs to happen before I'm willing to be alone with someone? At what point am I ok with someone coming over to my house? This is important because being alone, in true privacy, with someone you're highly attracted to often can lead to a sexual situation.
  • What is my position on birth control and STDs?
  • How do I feel about an unplanned pregnancy? What would I want to do in that situation?
  • Regarding unplanned pregnancy - what if my partner's ideas about the actions to take in that situation are different than mine? Do I stick to my original plan?
  • Do I keep dating someone who disagrees with my limits?
  • What is ok on the first date?
  • What is ok on the 2nd date and the third?
That should be enough food for thought for now.

General Dating Boundaries, Money, and Time Spent
  • What do I think about dating and finances - ie who pays? On the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd date?
  • How does my dating process work - do I meet someone for coffee first and then go on the 1st date later?
  • At what point do I decide to either keep dating someone or decline further dates?
  • What are my deal breakers - things that I cannot accept?
    For example, when I was dating, I could not deal with someone who was unemployed or lived with their parents. If they seemed shady or said anything condescending about women, then they were not for me. I knew that condescending statements about women indicated poor boundaries (who would ever say such things to someone they were trying to impress?) as well as attitudes that I might later have to deal with. No thanks.
  • How much time do I spend on dating? One evening a week? Two lunches? A lunch and a coffee? etc.
  • If I have children, when is it ok for this person to meet them?
You now have some food for thought. Now it's time to think about it. And write about it. Write down your thoughts and your boundaries. Writing something down like this helps clear your head and organize your thoughts.

Good luck!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dating and Boundaries

Many people abhor dating. I did too, until I discovered the power of boundaries and thoughtfulness.

I did a lot of online dating to find my husband. I found that the better my boundaries were, and the more I understood my own motives for doing things, and what I really wanted, the easier dating became.

In this article, let's just get started with discussing what boundaries are, why they're important in dating, and what they do for you.

So what are boundaries in dating?

Another word for boundaries could be 'limits'. Boundaries are basically decisions - what is acceptable to you and what isn't. It could be knowing what your limits on physicality are, on how much you'll spend on dating, and on how much time you wish to spend on it. I encourage you to actually ask yourself these questions and write down the answers in order to clear your head.

Why Are Boundaries Important in Dating?
Well, actually, boundaries are important not just in dating, but in every aspect of life. Knowing your boundaries is a part of knowing yourself. And that is especially important in dating.

When you're looking for a mate, how can you know what you're looking for without knowing yourself? You've got to figure out what you can stand, what you can't stand, and what's negotiable. Otherwise, you're just fumbling around in the dark or, worse, settling for whomever is willing to hang around for a while. That results in a lot of drama and hurt feelings. Who needs that?

Boundaries in dating give you options.
Setting boundaries and sticking to them is a form of acceptance of yourself. When you accept yourself as you are, then you have options. Setting boundaries in dating helps you avoid that icky feeling of having betrayed yourself, helps avoid resentments later, and helps your confidence. When you respect yourself, your confidence grows as you face fears.

Here's an example. At one point, when I was dating, I was always afraid of rejection. Of course everyone fears this, but I avoided facing that fear - I did not act in a way that was true to myself, believing that saying no to anything would result in that person not 'liking' me anymore.

Actually, it was quite the opposite. Saying yes to everything that your date wants may seem nice to your date at first. But soon, he or she will catch on that you really aren't into this stuff. At that point, they will feel like you are fake, emotionally immature (red flag) or are a game player who will, if they fall for you, change into your true self once you feel that you've 'got them'.

Once you've learned to say no a few times and survived, you will start feeling more confident and valid. Your dates will notice this characteristic.

And, not only that, but once you know it's ok to say no, you will also start saying no but learning to compromise too. This is a mark of emotional maturity that everyone recognizes and appreciates.

What's most important to know about boundaries is basically knowing what yours are, and then sticking to those, so that you preserve your integrity and avoid that 'icky' feeling of having just made a mistake that you now must live with.

You can start setting boundaries from the moment you write an online dating profile, or even start chatting with people online.

How do you know what your boundaries are? You decide them in advance and you write them down if you must.

Check back for more in my next article about Dating and Boundaries.

Questions? Super Dating Coach has answers. Just contact me via the blog and I will answer your questions - it's free so why not?

Monday, April 27, 2009

What to Talk About on the First Date

So, you've written a great dating profile, you've used online dating (or some method), and now you've got a date.

You've taken all the steps - showered, shaved, and dressed to kill. You and your date are going to dinner or something similar, where you can do what? Talk.

What to talk about on the first date is a stumbling block for many people. A lot of folks assume that if it's 'meant to be', then conversation will just naturally flow. There is a wee bit of truth to that, but what that statement doesn't cover is nervousness. It doesn't cover shyness. You and your date might be a perfect match, but your nervousness might keep you from saying anything other than hi.

So, what DO you talk about on the first date? Here are some general rules.

If you met the person through online dating, you can talk about the basics that you've not yet covered via email, IM, or phone.

People Love to Talk About Themselves

Remember, people love to talk about themselves. So ask questions. However, this is not an interrogation, so be friendly. When you ask a question, a person may be more willing to answer it if you provide your answer first. "I was born in Boise. How about you?"

Asking questions this way is a great way to get conversations going. When they're answering the question, you will hear more about them, and if you're tuned in (as you should be!), this will generate more questions that they will find interesting to answer. Also, as they speak, you will identify areas of similarity that you can then comment on.

Compliments are great, but no one wants to feel like the compliment they're receiving is false. So make sure that your compliments are sincere and thoughtful. "I love how the color of your shirt contrasts with your skin. That is really striking."

Also, when giving compliments, don't use too many. You don't want your excessive complimenting to come off as seduction rather than just genuine appreciation, especially on the first date.

General Topics of Conversation
On that first date, everything that you've read here may fly right out your ears and you may forget it. But if you do, remember, you can always ask questions.

General topics are helpful. As you are out on your date, look around you. You will see many things to talk about. You will see trees, flowers, plants. You will see landscaping, architecture, cloud formations. You will see other people. You will see cars, stores, restaurants. Any of these may trigger a memory that you can share - a funny story or a joke you heard (but not ethnic, sexist, or racial jokes). You will see bicycles...basically, all kinds of stuff. Make comments about what you see. Hopefully your date will also comment and the flame of conversation will take off from these sparks.

Whatever you do, don't keep your thoughts to yourself, within reason. If you are thinking that some flowers look pretty - say it. If you think the restaurant has great atmosphere, say that. Talk about why you think it does.

Talk about the weather.
Think about it. A conversation about weather can give birth to many different topics - such as stuff you can do when the weather's warm, stuff you can do when the weather's cold, how much better you like California's weather, or the weather you experienced while on a recent vacation. Then, now that these things have been brought to both you and your date's minds, you can talk about them.

Not every conversation on a date is going to be deep. That's ok. You're getting used to each other, you're having a good time. As you get more comfortable with one another, hopefully, things will thaw. The art of conversation on the first date is simply to get you off to the best start possible and to have a good time together while doing so.

Good luck with your online dating or other dating!

Need dating advice? Contact the Super Dating Coach. It's free, I promise.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Build a Great Online Dating Profile

How do you put together a great dating profile? There are many ingredients!

Some folks believe that putting an online dating profile together is akin to time spent in an iron maiden, and I don't mean the band. Others can snap their fingers and get it done.

Dating should be fun, and so should this.

An Online Dating Profile is a Work in Progress
As you date, you're going to find out more about what you like and don't like. You're going to find out more about what kinds of places you like to go on dates, you'll develop more skills when it comes to conversing. So, remember, even if you think your profile sucks right now, more will be revealed. Over time, you will think of things that should go on the profile, your friends might even have some suggestions. So just relax. Rome wasn't built in a day, and your profile might not be either.

Make your readers laugh.
You are funny, so be sure and show it. The most successful dating profile I ever had was one in which I was completely, directly, almost bluntly honest, and then made a joke about owning nine or ten cats and needing a man to live off of. If you're a girl, men appreciate humor. Guess what? Chicks dig it too. People want to know that a date with you has a good chance of being fun. Humor in your profile shows this, and it also shows that you're smart enough to make a joke.

Please, be honest.
Don't lie. Don't ever lie. There is never an excuse, and it only generates hurt feelings and wastes time for you and for others. Don't lie about your marital status, don't lie about anything. Don't lie by omission - you know which facts are material and which aren't, so please don't omit material facts.

There may be some facts that you would reveal to someone further down the dating timeline, and that's ok, but it better not be that your spouse and kids are waiting at home while you're out on your date.

Use a good picture.
This seems really obvious, doesn't it? But it's not.

Using a good picture means several things. It means, most importantly, that you use a current picture. Next up - that you haven't airbrushed out 30 pounds or a current spouse.

But it also means looking for a picture that is cheerful - maybe it's a bright picture, perhaps the picture is from a really fun vacation. Your picture should have proper exposure - people should be able to see your face and other important features. You should smile, naturally. You should be clean. Try taking a picture that highlights your best features.

Don't rag on the opposite sex and how you've previously been played.

Want some cheese with that whining? This is probably one of the most distasteful things I used to see. Someone who'd been wronged a few times by shady characters goes on and on in their profile about how they want someone honest, who doesn't play games, etc etc.

Here's a newsflash: anyone who is going to play games is not going to admit it to you. Anyone who is dishonest is not going to tell you that. All of this stuff serves to make you look like one thing: a constant victim. Victimhood is not attractive. So, please, don't tell your sob stories on your profile. Anyone who is attracted to you based on this is probably also a victim and I hope you have fun listening to their whining and dealing with their trust issues.

Be nice: Talk about what you like, not what you don't like.

Keep it positive. Here are some examples.

Don't say, "I hate cheaters." Again, no one who is likely to cheat is going to be upfront about that, now are they? Instead, 'I love honesty and fidelity."

Don't say, "Bad credit is not ok." That sounds terrible! How about this one - "I appreciate stability in a person's life."

Don't say, "Fat people need not apply." OR, conversely, "Your bones poking out are not hot. Eat a sandwich." No. Say this instead, "I appreciate a toned, healthy body that is proportionately shaped and fit." Only the most obtuse person would not understand that. Another example - "I love curves." or "Teddy bears are more than just a stuffed animal to me."

Trust me, there is ALWAYS a nice way to say something. And I don't know if your mama told you this, but my mama said it many times - you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.

There ya go. Need specific dating advice? Feel free to contact me and if your email is selected, I will respond via the blog, keeping you anonymous.

Successful Internet Dating

Welcome to the World of Online Dating!
You've heard all the stories. Perhaps you even know a couple that met via the internet. Perhaps you've seen those e-Harmony commercials. Somehow, you've become inspired to set up your own dating profile online. You've picked a service, you've got some hot pictures, you've written a cute or serious or bitter profile, and you're ready to start chatting.

Congratulations and welcome to the world of Online Dating!

Although online dating first seemed like something for folks who had no luck with face to face dating for one reason or another, online dating has now become mainstream. Just about everybody's doing it, and it's never been easier.

Or has it?

Dating is not for the faint of heart in even the most ideal conditions. Many formerly single people or even singletons themselves complain about the rigors of dating. Their complaints are very valid. Dating takes time, money, energy, and it can be an emotional roller coaster. In fact, I once lamented to my therapist about just how hard it is, saying, "Why the hell is it so hard to find THE ONE? For God's sake, why?"

She reasonably replied, "Because you're looking for The One. It should not be easy, it should not be instantaneous."

Makes sense, right? For most of us, yes, it does make sense. If you're talking about The One, well, that is quite an investment. That old cliche comes to mind, that nothing worth having is easily gotten.

So internet dating is not necessarily going to be a snap, or at least, not without the right attitude and skills.

This begs the question - how do I successfully do internet dating?

Many people approach dating without much thought. This is not a good idea and it leads to many wasted efforts. That's because it's pretty hard to get to a destination without knowing what the destination is. So you need to think about some things.

Start at the beginning: What is my ultimate dating goal for now?
It's very important to give this a bit of thought.

Are you looking for the one? Are you interested in marriage? Are you open to marriage if you find someone special? Are you just wanting to understand yourself a bit more? Are you just having fun? What are you doing?

Knowing what you ultimately want, for today, helps you date the people who will want the same things for now. This, in turn, results in a more pleasant experience for all involved. After all, if you're not looking for the One right this minute, should you really be dating people, who are currently seeking just that? Not necessarily.

Will your goal change? Of course. But be sure and know what your goal is for now. When it changes, you will know, and then you can change what you're doing.

Be Honest When Online Dating.
Or ANY dating, really. When you set up your dating profile, don't ever lie. Don't lie by omission. Don't flat-out tell lies. Don't fudge your marital status. Don't lie about your goals. Don't put up a picture that's 10 years old. Just don't lie about anything.

Lying not only results in hurt feelings for whomever has been lied to - it also results in lost time and wasted efforts for you. If your dating profile isn't based on reality, then you will not get what you want and need - someone who accepts you as you are, and believe me, there is someone for EVERYONE out there. Seriously. So there is no need to lie, ever. And there is no excuse.

Use only ONE dating service.
Two, if you absolutely must. I have heard women (and men, but mostly women) remark again and again that they saw so-and-so's profile up on several different dating sites, and does that mean that this person is an untrustworthy player? That is the impression you give when you have profiles on several different sites.

Another nasty impression you give - that you're desperate. You may think you're being efficient, but truly, use one site at a time.

If you have to use more than one dating service, make sure the profiles match on the important stuff.
If they don't, then your prospective dates who find you on both or all the sites, will think you're dishonest. Important stuff would be the obvious - gender, age, etc., but also, don't portray yourself as a mountaineer on one site and a bookworm on the other. You needn't copy your jokes and humor from your first profile, but please don't portray yourself differently on each profile.

Meet lots of people.

When I was dating, I once asked a friend of mine who'd been married for 30 years for their advice on dating. He was a successful sales guy and he said dating was like sales. A lot of prospects go in the funnel at the top, you qualify and qualify, and eventually, an order plops out at the bottom.

So how does that translate in online dating? Simple.

Talk to everyone.

Then meets lots of people.

Please, please, please, do not chat online for months before meeting someone. If you really need that long, prepare for disappointment. Of course, don't be stupid. But you should be able to quickly determine during your chat or email exchange if you want to talk to this person on the phone. Then after your phone call, you should quickly determine if you want to meet them in person.

Yes, there are crazies out there. There are crazies at the bar too. They're also found at the library, at church, etc. Be safe when meeting people - don't give someone you just started chatting with your landline number so they can reverse-search it, but why not just do some talking on the cell phone? That cannot be reverse-searched. Meet people in crowded places. Just be safe. Use your common sense. Common sense is not eternal online chatting and email exchange.

Meet lots of people. . .safely.
Meet for the first time in a restaurant or some other public place. Park in a well-lit space. Wait a while before you meet somewhere private with someone. Don't give out your address right away. If you're really worried about it, park a ways away so they don't get your license plate number or something. Use common sense. Let your friends know where you're going and with whom. Be safe.

Know when to take the profile down or privatize it.

If things are going well, have the Talk. Are we ready to stop looking for someone for now? Do we want to try this by ourselves for a while and see what happens? Many dating sites offer the option of just making the profile private. I recommend just removing it. Making it private and retaining the user name, etc., just creates suspicion and distrust - not a good growing medium for your new relationship, huh? If the profile was kick-ass and you're not sure yet, just save the text somewhere for a while.

This is a topic that you should mutually discuss and be honest about. Don't dance around it. Just be direct. There's nothing wrong with telling someone that you are really enjoying them and you're thinking about taking your profile down, and what are their thoughts on that? That is a good way to get the conversation started. But, however you start it, just make sure that you do, and make sure that you two decide together at some point, when the profiles have become obsolete.

That's it for this post folks. Be sure to come back for more wisdom from the Super Dating Coach. :)