Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Plenty of women would prefer a phone call over a text from guys they’re dating – yet they don’t realize a very simple method exists to getting less texts and more calls:  Don’t text him back.

I know, I know, such a suggestion will strike many as foolish or even insane in our text-addicted society, yet it really all goes back to incentives and human behavior.  What we reward, we get more of.  When you respond to texts you wish were phone calls, guess what you’ll get?  More texts.  Less calls.

You’ll also get more time wasters, and less serious contenders in your dating pool.  Why?  Because not texting men back is the ULTIMATE means of separating those who are really into you from those who are kinda, sorta, maybe-if-it’s-easy interested in you, at least until something better comes along.

Think about it.  If a guy who’s REALLY smitten with you texts you and doesn’t get a text back, what will happen?  He will pick up the phone and call.  It’s the same with you.  Let’s say you texted a colleague to confirm a sales meeting you were supposed to attend.  If you didn’t hear back, you wouldn’t just shrug it off and forget about it.  If it was important to you to get to the meeting to make your pitch, you’d call until you nailed things down.  Conversely, let’s say the meeting wasn’t that important, or it conflicted with another, better lead – sure, then maybe you’d let it go.

Same thing with dating.  The guy who truly wants to see you, may text initially, but if he doesn’t hear back, he’ll call.  Many women fear that if they don’t text back, they’ll lose a guy.  And, YES, you will shake off those with lukewarm interest in you, which is a very productive and time-efficient thing to do: You’ve avoided wasting time on and possibly getting hurt by Mr. Maybe.

Too many women think not texting back invites dating mishaps and disasters – but it actually PREVENTS such.  Example: An ex-boyfriend of mine, kind of on-again-off-again, was trying to get things “on again” with me, and had set up a dinner date with me by e-mail.  The day of the date, he texted me to confirm.  I didn’t text back.  The date didn’t happen.  Disaster – or disaster avoided?  Definitely the latter!  His lack of interest was WHY our relationship was always so difficult — or to use the common euphemism, “complicated.”  But finally, with non-texting, I was able to put an end to the whole stupid time-wasting nonsense.  It’s really, REALLY, not that complicated.

On the other hand, if he’s strongly attracted to you, he’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, make excuses for you – as in “Oh, she’s not a texter” or “Maybe she didn’t get my text.”  Indeed, as I’ve seen time and time again in my practice as a dating coach, if a contender is already starting out with a high level of interest in you, not texting back will pique – not dilute – that interest.

This is why the authors of The Rules, Ellen & Sherrie Schneider, encourage women to avoid texting.  They rightly point out that if you’re texting back and forth, you’re way too available.  There’s no mystery, no distance for him to pursue, if all he has to do it punch a keypad for you to respond.

That said, I know that for many even extremely practiced and disciplined Rules Girls, the “no texting” rule can be one of the most challenging to follow.   I hear the complaint all the time: “But we live in a texting world.  Everyone texts.”

But the fact that everyone – every girl, to be precise – does text is, perhaps, the strongest case for why YOU should not.  After all, Rule #1 is all about “Being a Creature Unlike Any Other.”  If every other creature out there is texting – and sexting – on a constant basis, what a simple, elegant way for you to separate yourself from the competition.  Take it to the bank, girls: If he really likes you, he WILL call you.  No exceptions.

Still having trouble resisting the lure of texting? Sign up for a free 10-minute consult at maliburulesgirl.com.


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In my last blog – “Trips Make Men Go Backwards” – I reviewed the Rules advice against going away with a man on week-long trips, before you’re married.  But the authors Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider DO say it’s okay to go way “for an overnight trip or weekend trip occasionally after dating you for three or four months.”  And with summer around the corner, your man may be making noises about taking you away to the beach or the countryside for a day or two.

So, how should you act when you’re on a little getaway with your guy?  Keeping in mind that even a weekend trip presents pitfalls and temptations that can set the relationship back – instead of moving it forward –here are five quick suggestions on how to act when you’re away together:

  1. Let it be HIS idea.  Don’t drop hints about wanting to go away – or where you’d like to go.  Remember Rule #17: “Let Him Take the Lead.”  First and foremost it will it give him a great sense of accomplishment and pride in having arranged things and delighted you.  Plus, if something goes wrong – missed flight, bad hotel, traffic nightmares – you can be patient and supportive, instead of fearful that he may blame you in a cranky moment.
  2. Keep it as short as possible. Again, as I mentioned in my last blog – almost NOTHING is more delicious than the prospect of going away somewhere with your beloved.  You may be sorely tempted to prolong this deliciousness, to take the day off work so you two can leave early Friday, or agree to stay a day longer when he begs – but don’t give into temptation!  Don’t get greedy and risk him getting too much of you.  Quit while you’re ahead!
  3. If the weekend is on the longer side, work in a little alone time – even if it’s going off to the gym by yourself, getting a spa treatment, or taking a walk into town.  If he wants to play a round of golf, say “Have fun!”  Don’t make him feel like he’s constantly under your scrutiny and has to entertain you.  Bring a book, or a pad to sketch on, or a yoga mat – find ways to entertain yourself.
  4. Don’t be a slob – but don’t be his maid either!  Men really do notice if you tend to leave your girly things everywhere, and though they may joke about it at the time, it will register on them, even subconsciously, bringing up potential issues about the future in terms of what it would mean to merge households, and how he maintains his masculine integrity.  Be neat.  Bring a little travel candle or atomizer, to keep the bathroom fresh.  But don’t straighten up his things – or nag him to do it.  Just focus on having fun.
  5. Bring new lingerie, with tags still on (but not too expensive).  You are this fabulous present that he gets to open and enjoy – so don’t use recycled wrapping paper, if you know what I mean.  Pay attention to proper grooming, but don’t walk around with curlers or facemasks if at all avoidable.
  6. Let HIM be the one to break out the camera or ask strangers to take pictures of the two of you.  If he sends the pictures to you, great – but don’t ask him to.  If he forgets his camera, let him buy a disposable one.  You don’t want to end up being the one who’s in charge of memorializing the weekend on film.  If he does bring his camera, then yours can come out too.
  7. Zip it. Even with a short overnight/weekend, there may be long trips in the car, cab or copter.  If he’s inclined to a companionable silence, then smile and focus on the scenery.  As Ellen & Sherrie say: “Don’t feel you have to be entertaining or have interesting conversation all the time.  He will think you are trying too hard.  Just be there!  Remember men fall in love with your essence, not with anything in particular you say.”
  8. Don’t write a thank you note when it’s over – or (God forbid) get him a “thank you” present.  Thank him as you’re leaving or when he drops you off.  Remember, it’s also his pleasure to have had the privilege of spending such special time with you.  Don’t act like the great aunt whom he’s kindly taken care of for the weekend – act like his dreamgirl.  Gracious, but not groveling.

Still unsure about proper Rules protocol on the quick romantic trip? Then sign up for a free introductory 10-minute consult at www.maliburulesgirl.com.

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So, he wants to take you on a trip!  It’s one of the peak moments of dating someone new – right up there with him telling you he loves you and wants to be exclusive. You think:  If he wants to spend days – even a whole week – with me, he must really be into me.  It’s all the more exciting if the destination is glamorous – Aspen, St. Barth’s, Angra –someplace you’ve always wanted to go.

Even if in the back of your mind you’re thinking “too much, too soon,” how can you possibly resist?  Or maybe you’ve just re-united after a “break” – and think: What better way to heal past wounds than a trip just the two of you, away from it all?

Unfortunately, what seems like it could be a big step forward in the relationship could end as a bigger step backwards: After you get back, he doesn’t call for a few days, or longer.  He’s distant.  He may even break up with you.

You blame yourself.  You think maybe you did something wrong on the trip, or after spending so much time with you, he decided he really doesn’t like you.  You begin second guessing everything you said or did.  Your self-esteem takes a nosedive.

In my practice as a dating coach, I see this dynamic happen all the time, and more often than not, the reason a man pulls away after a trip has little to do with anything in particular you did or how much he likes you.  Rather, he’s reacting to too much togetherness, possibly too much emotional intensity – even if going away was his idea.

Maybe up until the trip, he’s been pursuing you – and you’ve always left him wanting more.  Well, going on vacation together is like sidling up to an all-you-can-eat buffet.  It may be great while you’re loading up on the lobster and foie gras, but you pay the price afterwards.  When traveling together, he’s not wondering where you are, what you’re doing and what you’re thinking – you’re right there, and probably over a poolside pina colada, you’ve told him all about your hopes, fears, and feelings.  You may have even slipped into wife-y mode, reminding him to put on sunscreen, or picking up after him in the hotel room.

As I write this, I am cringing at the memory of actually having packed for a boyfriend while on a trip to London, making our way to Paris.  What in God’s name was I thinking?   Was it some misguided geisha impulse – or simply playing house?  Whatever it was, it ultimately backfired as the boyfriend broke up with me, right after we returned from a fabulous trip to the Caribbean.

I remember feeling stunned.  What went wrong?  We hadn’t fought.  Quite the opposite: We had never been closer, never had more fun.   The breakup felt like having a divorce right after a honeymoon – and therein is the real problem: Weeklong vacations accelerate relationships beyond their natural pace of development. You jump from dating to a kind of pseudo-honeymoon, and while the guy may love every moment of it, once back home (or even on the flight back) he’ll be suffering from a bit of time warp, wondering how things got so advanced.  Maybe he no longer feels in control of the relationship, but rather as if he’s being swept along by its own momentum (yes, he created the momentum, but that’s another point – we can’t expect men to pace the relationship).

This is why The Rules authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider insist that trips make men go backwards.  They’re not trying to spoil anyone’s fun – they’re trying to help women realize their long term romantic goals, even if that means some short term delayed gratification.  In full, they advise:

“Don’t go away with a man for a week.  Save it for your honeymoon!  What if, after dating Mr. Right for a month or two, he invites you on a cruise or to an exotic island for a week?  The Rules answer?  You’re busy and can’t get away.  Cruises and weeklong vacations make men go backward!  Things can get hot and heavy when you see each other seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day…He might be romantic on the trip, but pull back when you return, saying he needs his ‘space.’”

The flip side of this is that I have often seen men make real emotional advances, or even pop the question, when they return from a trip without you – or when you return from a trip you took on your own.  When you turn them down for a trip and even encourage them to go on their own, they’ll be thinking of you the entire time, and beginning to put the pieces together in their mind of how they can have you with them on future trips, for the rest of their lives.

I know it’s tempting – summer’s around the corner and what could possibly sound better than a vacation with the man you love?  How about: A destination wedding – and honeymoon.

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Last weekend I watched Date Night — and while I made a rather un-Rulesy spectacle of myself rolling in the aisles with laughter, the comedy also contained some important messages, straight out of The Rules for Marriage, by Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider (Rule #28: Have a Date Night).

Tina Fey and Steve Carell play a suburban New Jersey married couple with kids who grudgingly go on Saturday “Date Nights,” but even these are mundane and predictable.  Sex is an afterthought – as Fey’s character snaps in her mouth-guard retainer and complains of stomach gas.  The protagonists wonder whether they have become more like “the most excellent roommates” than man and wife in love.

The situation precisely echoes the Rules authors: “We have found that marriages where the wives do not take date night and sex seriously have less passion and fun.  The couple starts to act like roommates, not lovers, and this can go on for months, sometimes years.”

Then one night – in the movie – this all changes when they DO take date night seriously.  She gets dressed up, he takes her to a fancy place.  All goes well until a stolen reservation leads to a case of mistaken identity that sends them running for their lives.  In the process of fighting off – then trapping – the bad guys, they earn a new respect and fascination for each other, reigniting lost passion.

Fortunately, you can do the same – without the car chases and shootouts! Here are a few tips:

  • Make an effort to look a little better than you do the rest of the days of the week.  You don’t need to go nuts (like you did when you were dating!) but try to wear something a little sexier, do your hair and make-up (unless, like my husband, he hates make-up).
  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Yes, it would be nice, if like in the movies, he took you out to that hip new place you’ve been talking about.  But life isn’t the movies!  While going out definitely makes it a “special” evening, you can do date night at home, as long as it’s you two on your own (drop the kids at a babysitter’s or family member’s house).
  • Don’t wait around for him to make the plans.  I know, I know – this is opposite of The Rules for dating (#17 “Let Him Take the Lead“)…the marriage rules turn most off that stuff on its head.  The important thing is to make Date Night special, and if it’s not happening on his initiative, then you may need to (gasp) make it happen.
  • Keep it light & breezy – let this be a night for fun, laughter and sensual pleasure.  You can go over problems and to do lists the next day.

In its own quirky way, the movie also dealt with deeper issues, specifically, being supportive of your husband.  The Tina Fey character had been emasculating her husband, doing it all herself in part because she felt he was “bad with plans.”  But as Fein & Schneider say:  “If bursting a man’s bubble would make him earn more money or lose weight, then we’d say do it.  But it doesn’t.  It crushes his ego and creates resentment.”

As their lives are collapsing, Fey’s character has no choice but to rely on (rather than nitpick) the husband’s plan, and he saves the day.  You might say, well, that’s Hollywood, and I’d tend to agree.  But as silly as it sounds, Date Night inspired me – not just to take my own date nights up a notch with my husband, but to try (NOT easy!) to be more supportive of his plans and ideas.  It’s an experiment!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

For more intense one-on-one help, try a free 10-minute consultation at www.maliburulesgirl.com

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It’s one of the most common complaints I hear from the women I coach – whether they’re married or dating: “I just feel like he takes me for granted.”  When I ask why, women cite things like:

  • “He waits until Friday to make plans for the weekend – he just assumes I’ll be available.”
  • “He used to take me out on nice dates – now it’s always takeout and a video”
  • He won’t propose – he just assumes I’ll stick around forever without being married.”
  • “He doesn’t appreciate all I do – working, taking care of the kids, the house, etc.”

When we feel taken advantage of we feel like a victim – and while the object of our ire may indeed be selfish, we won’t fix the problem simply playing the blame game.  Sure, we can nag our men, tell them they ought to appreciate us more, and maybe they’ll make an effort to show more appreciation.  But “showing” and “feeling” are two different things.  Men usually won’t stop taking their girlfriends and wives for granted simply because we tell them to.  Changing the dynamic requires more than words – it requires actions, and here are five simple ways to shake things up:

1. Turn him down for a date, every once in a while.  I know it’s hard, you adore him, and want to spend as much time with him as possible – there’s no one else you’d rather be with.  Problem is, he knows that!  He takes for granted that you’re always available – because you ARE always available.  So don’t be!

2. Take a trip with a girlfriend – without him.  As Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider say in The Rules: “Tell him a week before you go, in a very innocent, sweet voice, that you’re going to Florida with your girlfriend…’Nothing serious, hon, just some R & R.’”

3. Do you own thing!  Don’t act as if your life revolves around him.  Men love women who are busy, who don’t act dependent, either emotionally or financially (even if you are!).  Don’t sit around the house always waiting for him to come home – volunteer, exercise, take classes, see other friends and family.

4. Let him be the one who initiates physical contact – whether it’s holding hands or kissing or making love.  Maybe he doesn’t reach for you as often as you like because he takes for granted that you’ll always reach for him.  So for a set time, a week or a month, try letting him initiate at least 75% of contact.

5. When he asks you to “hang out” instead of taking you out, say, “Hmmmmm, no, I don’t think so.”  Say it very nicely – you can even say you’d love to see him, but you’re just not in the mood for hanging out. He may surprise you by upgrading the invite to a real plan.

These tips are simple – but they’re hardly easy.  If you’ve helped contribute to a pattern where your man does the minimum, and expects the maximum, it’s difficult to change the way he relates to you overnight.  The important thing is to recognize that you deserve better – and start acting like it.

For more intense one-on-one help, book a personal coaching session through www.maliburulesgirl.com.

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If your husband cheats — even once — should you take him back? And if he cheats — like Jesse James did to Sandra Bullock — over and over, with the trashiest women possible, heedless of both decency and disease, could you take him back?

With reports of divorce lawyers and moving vans circulating, the answer appears to be leaning toward “No,” for Bullock.  And while that can only be a heartbreaking decision for a woman who so clearly was deeply and genuinely in love with her husband, it’s also the wise decision.

It may be true that James is now desperate to hold on to his marriage — and that he is entering rehab for sex addiction. He may be really, really sorry — and no doubt he is (at least sorry he got caught). But even were Sandra to forgive and reconcile with him, the marriage would never be the same — in large part because Jesse was never the man his wife thought or hoped he was.

Rule #40 in Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider’s Rules for Marriage put it squarely:

“Once a cheater, always a cheater.  We are not telling you that you must divorce your husband for one sexual infidelity. We are just saying that even if you decide to stay married to him, your marriage is really over.”

Certainly every marriage is different, and I would never judge a woman who decides to remain with a cheater for the sake of family, or finances, or even political ambition. It’s her business and I don’t really care. What I do care about is that women should not feel socially pressured to “stand by her man” after he’s proven a proclivity to hurt and betray her. Nor should she feel obliged to treat a dangerous character flaw as a disease/addiction beyond the “addict’s” control.

When confronted about their infidelity, most cheaters will deny, deny, deny. What’s most important for the victim is not to deny — but instead to face the painful truth that a man who has cheated on you will likely do it again, and that the surest way to avoid continued hurt and humiliation is not to try and “work it out” but to walk away.

Follow Jag Carrao on Twitter: www.twitter.com/maliburulesgirl

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