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. superdatingcoach@gmail.com.

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. :)