Archive for the ‘Getting your dating attitude on’ category

Thanks for unknown blessings to come

November 21, 2007

“Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.” ~Native American prayer

ThanksgivingSince it’s Thanksgiving week here in the US, this quote held significance for not only giving thanks for treasures already in our lives — our families, bounty and life — but also for dating.

One of the fun things about dating is not knowing who or what is around the corner. Will the next guy with whom you connect be the guy for you? If so, will he enchant you immediately knocking your socks off, or will you fall in love slowly? Even if he’s not the one for you, what unknown blessings might your meeting him bring?

As I look back at the 83 men with whom I’ve gone out in my 3-year adventure, I can see many blessings they have brought, whether it’s an enjoyable conversation, information on a topic I was interested in, a pleasant meal, or insight into how that man’s mind works. I’ve even had blessings from men who made contact but we didn’t meet! The ahas were what I learned about myself, what I wanted or didn’t want, or a new understanding of how some men think or operate.

So with every new wink, email or coffee encounter, ask “What blessing is this man offering?” Even bad dates have lessons if you’re willing to look.

At this time of thanks, pause for a few minutes and note the blessings that dating has brought you. (Try not to think of the turkeys!) And prepare for the unknown blessings ahead. Share the significant ones with us.

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Why are we drawn to bad boys?

November 9, 2007

Bad boyThey are like forbidden foods when we are on a diet. They pull us toward them, no matter how much self-control we try to have. We work to resist, but their beckoning becomes too much for us. We succumb to their wiles.

What is it about bad boys — who are, of course, really midlife men — that is so irresistible to some? Intellectually, you know they are certain trouble. They will say and do the things that melt you. You quickly give them your heart on a silver platter: “Here it is — my heart. Take it. I offer it willingly.” Even if you’ve seen signs that he won’t protect it, you serve it to him with little, if any, hesitation.

Is it that they’ve learned how to address your surface emotional needs? They say all the right things, “Don’t ever change. You are perfect the way you are.” “I see us together for a long, long time.” “Where have you been all my life?” “You’re someone I can take home to my mother. She’ll love you.” “You make me very happy.” “I’m afraid I’m falling for you.” I even had one say on the phone to his sister when I walked into the room, “Your future sister-in-law just came in.”

It’s not just their words. It’s their touch, their kiss, how they look at you, with that look that says they are really, really, really into you. It’s the pheromones — that chemistry thing, but it’s like love potion mixed with steroids.

Are we so needy to hear sweet things that we overlook the parts that aren’t good? We want to be in love so desperately that we ignore the clear signs he isn’t emotionally mature or available? We aren’t fully emotionally available ourselves so we choose guys who will leave us in the dust as quickly as they stole our hearts? Is it low self-esteem, even when we have high self-esteem in many other areas?

What is it that is so alluring? Have they figured out how to hypnotize us? They know what many women want from a man? That they can love us and leave us and we’ll still long for them to return with open arms?

What’s your theory — or experience — with the temptations of bad boys? Why do we fall for them so readily? Even when we’re at midlife and know better?

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Dating: A self-designed personal-growth workshop

November 8, 2007

Maybe you’re like me and have attended a lot of seminars. Perhaps some of these have been personal-growth workshops. After taking a bunch of them, you realize you can design a lot of the activities yourself. If you are a good student, you see that you don’t really need someone else to design the processes and led you through them. You can do this for yourself.

You become adept at making many life events learning experiences. Sometimes they are unpleasant episodes, but even those can produce valuable lessons.

Thus it is with dating. No matter what happens, there is a lesson for you. It could be affirming, “Great decision. Do that again.” Or it could be admonishing, “That was dumb. How could you let yourself get in that situation?” Either way, you’ve added to your wisdom arsenal, even if it was just reinforcing information you already knew.

Once you appreciate all the lessons you get from an experience after the fact, you become more emboldened to be pro-active about gaining the lessons. You plan activities that will force you to examine your feelings and behaviors. “Like what?” you ask.

kissingLet’s say in the past you’ve allowed intimacy to just unfold spontaneously, without thinking beforehand, “Do I want to have sex with this guy? If I do have sex with him, what will be my expectations of him afterward? I usually then become more attached to a guy, so will I be clingy? Or hurt if he doesn’t call the next day or act like we’re an item now?” One thing has always led to another, sometimes with the help of alcohol or loneliness or skin hunger. And afterward, if he didn’t call or step up his contact with you, you felt slutty, or used, or hurt.

So how could you be proactive about designing a process that would cause you to have a new lesson in this example? What if you decided you would talk to the guy you are dating about sex before you get too far into the activities to want to stop? What if after some extended smooching, you paused and said, “Can we talk about sex?” It’s not too early in the relationship to do so, and it appears he’s interested in you romantically. But your clothes (at least most of them) are still on, so you’re not at a place where you are promising something that you may not deliver.

The lesson for you would be that you learned you could have a serious discussion with the man you’re dating. If he poo-poos talking about it, gets upset that you’ve stopped the action, or gives you one-word responses while trying to remove your clothes, you know all you need about this man to not continue. If he’s able to stop and have a discussion about what sex means to each of you, what you need from him to have sex with him eventually (not tonight), and about STDs/safe sex/protection, you see that you are with someone who is emotionally mature.

But if the discussion is difficult for you to bring up, you then get to examine why. Is it that you are afraid of being rejected for stopping the action? He might get annoyed and leave, never to call again? What is it in you that finds this discussion so difficult that you’ve never brought it up with anyone before?

So no matter what happens, you get a chance to examine your thoughts and feelings which led to the actions. And you also get to examine how you felt about yourself afterwards. All of which makes for a very rich personal-growth seminar!

How have you found dating to be a personal-growth experience? What questions have you learned to ask yourself that squeeze learnings out of nearly every dating experience?

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Even eye candy isn’t good if you’re allergic

October 28, 2007

Last night, a date and I went to a Halloween party. The room was filled with scantily clad, hard-bodied beautiful people in provocative costumes. I tried to fit in with a comparably sedate, decidedly more understated attempt at a dominatrix. While I felt comfortable in my costume, even with my chubby, fishnet-encased legs flowing from my leather skirt (accented by a whip and name tag stating “Mistress R”) I wondered what my date thought of the beautiful, barely dressed women nearby.

“That Paris Hilton look alike in the bikini looks cold,” I commented.

“Yeah. Not too smart to wear that to a party in October.”

pirate“I bet you’d like to be held captive by that beautiful, stiletto-heeled pirate in the micro-miniskirt,” I teased.

“Nah. I’d rather walk the plank.”

As we admired the imagination and creativity of other costumes and how great people looked in them, he said, “They can look good, but based on some of our conversations with them, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of substance. I’ve learned that for me, it’s like being in a candy store looking at all the goodies, but then remembering that you’re allergic to sugar. Within a nanosecond you realize you aren’t interested in anything there.”

This was an interesting perspective for me to hear. Based on preferences of the vast majority of men’s online profiles, I’ve generalized that nearly all men would pick the Paris Hilton-type bodies over my curvy one carrying extra pounds. It was reassuring that he didn’t find these model-like women to be appealing. And it showed that he was a conscious gentleman to not go ga-ga over these women while with me.

He continued, “Sexiness and appeal have much more to do with how a woman carries herself — her posture, her walk, her dress — than her weight or figure. A woman who knows how to dress to her strengths and is happy with herself is sexy no matter what her size.”

I kissed him. I couldn’t help myself.

How do you feel about how you carry yourself? Do you think you project happiness and confidence? If not, what could you do to show more self-assuredness?

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Are you sending off “ready” vibes?

October 27, 2007

Talking to a single friend about her dating life, she said, “I’m really not ready, but I do have a profile posted.”

“Why do you have a profile posted if you’re not interested in actually dating right now?”

“It puts me in the mood of getting ready.”

“That’s wise. It opens you up to the possibility of dating, which carries over into real life. You send off more energy that you’re available for romance and men pick that up. I’ve noticed more men flirt with me since I’ve been dating. I think it’s my attitude.”

Have you been getting ready to get ready to date? If so, why not take the plunge and post your profile on a site or two. If you get any nibbles and aren’t quite ready, you can always politely decline. But it will also help you shift into ready mode more quickly. And who knows who’ll pick up on those vibes and ask you out.

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The zest test

October 26, 2007

An attractive, successful, intelligent, sexy 48-year-old man told me on our first date that he’d only had two other dates in the last 3.5 years. I asked why.

“I’m not attracted to most women.”

This was unusual, as I’d heard that many men are attracted to a lot of women who meet their physical criteria. So I probed.

“What are most women lacking that make you not attracted to them?”

zestHe thought for a moment. “A zest for life. Gusto. Joie de vivre. Most of the women I talk to are complaining about something — exes, bosses, money, their bodies, men, life. It sucks the wind out of me. A beautiful woman complaining is suddenly unattractive. But an attractive woman who is upbeat, positive and fun becomes stunningly beautiful. It’s very much part of your allure to me.”

I was flattered. I hadn’t really thought about my attitude and how it compared to other women. Since I hang out with positive, upbeat people, when I encounter negative complainers I high-tail it out of the situation as quickly as possible. So I understood what he was talking about. But I found it interesting that he found so many women were down about life.

It reminded me how important those first encounters are with a new person. Not that you should be obsessively guarded about what you say, but I think we should be conscious of the impression we’re giving. If you have challenges, it’s OK to share them, but not on the first date or two. Save them for a little later, if you have any interest in seeing the guy again.

Early on in my post-divorce dating life I hadn’t quite figured this out. I remember scratching my head after several first dates I thought went well, then I got the “we’re not a match” email afterward. Looking back on the conversations, I noticed a trend. We would swap stories about our exes, both of us complaining about how or why the ex left. I thought we were bonding through commiseration. I think part of why there wasn’t an attraction is that complaining is rarely attractive — even if you both seem to be doing an equal amount of it. You’d think complainers would band together — and sometimes they do. But I don’t think it’s good date behavior.

So before a first date, think about the things in life for which you have passion. If need be, make a list. When it’s your turn to share, talk about what excites you. Even if it something that holds no interest for him, it’s hard to be bored when someone is expressing their passion. If he shows some interest in your topic, great. Ask what he’s passionate about, as well. Very few people are asked that question and it will show you’re focused on positives.

Do you feel you have zest? If so, how do you express it?

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Bank of Grace account overdrawn

October 24, 2007

You met a guy and you seemed to hit it off really well. You saw him a few times. Lots of flirting, which led to hand holding and even kissing. In between seeing each other, some calls. But there were also a lot of unkept promises and missed commitments. There were plausible reasons, so you gave him grace. Time and time again. More grace. And more.

Finally, his grace account is overdrawn and interest is accruing fast. If he doesn’t put some deposits in his account ASAP, you’re closing his account for good. In fact, you’re thinking you should have already closed it. You’re hoping (praying?) the payoff will be worth the outlay of emotional cash.

Why does a bank let anyone borrow an asset? Because of the assumed or agreed payoff at the end. You’re planning to get more back than was borrowed. The problem with relationships is the loan is uncollateralized. There is nothing to repossess if the debt is unpaid — except your attention, and yes, sometimes your heart. And your self-respect, which is stretched because of this breach of contract.

“Contract?” you may ask. Did you both state or sign a contract that said you’d grant him a loan of grace if he were to sign a promissory note to repay it with interest within a time period? No, of course not. You may not have even let him know he was overdrawing the grace bank. Perhaps he thought your grace was a gift, not a loan.

Maybe your grace was showing your understanding and support of his issues that prevented him from fulfilling his obligations to you. Some call that enabling and codependency.

At some point, you have to call in the note — tell him he’s overdrawn and that you won’t allow for any more dipping into the Grace Bank until he’s repaid what he owes. Be clear. Don’t back down. Don’t give in to yet another excuse.

Or just say, “I’m done. I feel taken advantage of” and close the account — permanently. Which may create some sadness as you grieve what you thought might have been a good relationship. But if he’s acting this way at the beginning of the relationship, he will continue to do so. Best to write off this loss now and move on to someone who understands the high value of grace and uses it rarely. Those are the kind of accounts you want — not those who abuse the privilege.

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