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Archive for the ‘Holiday Dating’ Category

I know New Year’s eve is still weeks away, but one of my last year’s New Year’s Resolutions was to be better organized – so in that spirit, I’m thinking of what kind of Rules-y resolutions I should make for 2011.  Here are a few I’m contemplating:

  1. Make “easy to be with” the mantra for my marriage.  For better or for worse, Rapha has picked up a few tidbits of TR over the years, and his favorite is “easy to be with.”  It’s tempting to focus on the “hard to get” part of the Rules equation – but once you’ve got him, you may not keep him unless you give him space, build him up and avoid nagging whenever possible.
  2. Revisit my birthday and holiday lists.  I adore picking out special cards and giving well-chosen gifts to friends and relatives, but when the gift-giving becomes mainly one sided, I’ve decided to take a step back.  That may sound a little Grinch-like in this spirit of giving, but the most important gift we can give each other is not material things but an open, loving heart – and when lopsided gift-giving leads to feelings of being taken for granted, then how generous is it really?  For example, for years I’ve sent birthday gifts to one relative – his wife, and each of his several children.  Recently, it started to feel like a drag…and I couldn’t figure out why.  When my birthday came and went without even a card or phone call from this relative, I realized this was a good area to apply a little TR, do a little less, and let the balance of the relationship restore itself.
  3. In social gatherings, I resolve to stop feeling compelled to engage with unsociable people.  Maybe it’s because I live in Malibu, so going out to parties in town often means a long car trip – by the time I arrive, the time investment prompts me to work hard to make conversations flow and bring people out of their shells.  No more.  If someone is socially challenged and shows zero curiosity in who I am, what I do, are why I’m there….I’m moving on.  From now on, when I go out to events, I’m focusing on having fun – not giving succor to the insecure.
  4. Wear make-up to the office!  Even if it’s just mascara and lip gloss.  Not because I’m looking to attract male attention – my husband gives me more attention than I can handle – but because it’s part of getting dressed professionally and proving you’re geared up to represent your business in the best light possible.  Research shows that women who make up their faces for work tend to be more successful – maybe it’s because those who are conscientious enough to take care of their appearance are naturally conscientious enough to take care of their work, or maybe people respect you more if you appear to take the time to pull yourself together.  Regardless, putting your best face forward will help build confidence…and if it gives you a little edge in a competitive work environment, so much the better!
  5. Give people the benefit of the doubt.  It’s hard to stay light & breezy when someone, even a stranger, violates an expectation – be it signaling before changing lanes, or showing up on time for appointments, or failing to meet a deadline.  It’s easy to apply snap judgments – that person is rude, or doesn’t care about you, or is lazy, etc.  We end up fuming – and possibly snapping – which often invites adverse reactions.  For 2011, I’m going to redouble efforts to postpone conclusions until I have all the facts, waiting to ask the simple question: What happened?  In cases where I can’t ask the question – e.g., being cut off in traffic – I’ll at least try to entertain the possibility of benign motive speculation (the person didn’t see me, is on their way to the hospital, just heard their wife is leaving them, etc.).  It may be Pollyannish – but if it helps me keep that most important Rules accessory in place (the smile) then I’m all for it!

What are some of your hopes and goals for 2011?  Are you looking to meet and marry the man of your dreams?  Get out of a going-nowhere relationship?  Close the deal with your boyfriend?  Let me help you make the resolutions that can make next year one of excitement, security, love and peace.

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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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The dating deception single women invariably confront range from the annoying (online photos that turn out to be a decade old), to the aggravating (“I’ll call you”), to the agonizing (“Oh, her? Just a friend”). But usually we don’t remain in the dark forever – one way or another, the truth will out. Far more insidious, however, are the lies we women tell ourselves.  These myths may feel comfy, but by insulating us from sometimes unpleasant realities, they undermine our ability to make rational decisions based on complete information, thus sabotaging our long-term romantic goals.

In my practice as a Rules dating coach, here are the most common dating myths women fall for:

1)  He’s intimidated by you. I hear this one all the time.  What’s even more mortifying is I used to fall for it myself. Women with lots going for them – attractive professionals with their act pulled together – will tell themselves that the reason the object of their affection isn’t responding to their flirtation is because he’s just overawed by their credentials, looks, or financial

standing.  Ladies, it just isn’t true.  Wish it was true – so much more palatable than “he’s just not that into you.”   And yes, there are plenty of mousy guys out there.  But even the mousiest specimen will discover his inner manly man when he sees a woman he wants to be with.  Let go of the fantasy relationships to open yourself up to a real one.

2) Women love men who treat them like crap. I recently came across a heinous example of this sort of misogynistic claptrap in a blog by a self-styled pick-up artist guru – Roissy in DC – claiming: “The men women want most” are “cads and ***holes.”  That may be true for a minority, but women with high self-esteem find adoring, persistent and respectful attention an incredible turn-on.  Such women instinctively avoid wasting time on men who cultivate “low expectations,” as Roissy recommends. That’s the benefit of The Rules mantra: “Love only those who love you.

“Because you love yourself, you are no longer interested in men who ignore you, cheat on you, hurt you …You have no desire to chase someone who hasn’t noticed you, sought you out, or dialed your number to ask you out.”

3)  It’s what’s on the inside that counts. Before you have a heart attack, let me emphasize that it IS what’s on the inside – your essence, your spirit, your intellect – that a man falls in love with, and that is all important when it comes to building a relationship and sustaining it over the long run, especially during hard times.  But unfortunately, this “truth” can become a myth, when we use it to dismiss the importance of looking our best when it comes to attracting men.  In addition to diet and exercise, this includes making an extra effort to look pulled together, feminine and sexy.  If you have a favorite feature, show it off!  Your long legs, dazzling décolletage, or silky tousled hair may be the lure that leads him to contemplate and fall in love with your amazing personality.

4)  He’s teasing you because he likes you.  We’ve been fed this line ever since we came home crying about Johnny’s spitballs in 3rd grade.  While it may have been true for young boys, still developing emotionally and sexually, a grown man who tries to put you off balance with verbal sparring on the first few dates doesn’t really care that much about you – or is playing games, which, in my book, amount to the same thing.  Again, the players’ guru, Roissy, explicitly encourages men to ask a date questions “designed to put her on the defensive,” such as “Are you a good kisser?” or “Are you rich?”  I’ve detailed your options for dealing with such questions elsewhere, but suffice it to say here that a man who really likes you will NOT risk offending you, and thus spoiling his chances of sleeping with you, by playing such games.

5) It doesn’t matter what night he wants to see you — Thursday, Friday, Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, whatever  – only THAT he wants to see you. You may want to believe it’s not important whether he asks you for Saturday or not – but he knows the importance, believe me.  Remember the Beach Boys’ lyric?  “None of the guys go steady, ‘cuz it wouldn’t be right to leave your best girl home on a Saturday night.”  On the other end of the spectrum, Roissy tells men to “train women to have low expectations for seeing you on prime [EXPLETIVE] hunting nights.”  If he’s not seeing you on Saturday, he’s seeing someone else – or looking for someone he WOULD want to see on Saturdays, and every other day, in perpetuity.

If you think you may be falling for one or more of these myths – but aren’t sure about whether it applies to your specific situation, then sign up for a free 10-minute consultation at www.maliburulesgirl.com.  Next week I’ll fill you in on the next five lies women tell themselves in dating, so you can break out of self-destructive delusions to realize your highest romantic goals.

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Other than staking out her territory under the mistletoe, what can the single woman do to leverage the holidays to her advantage?  There’s plenty of tactics she can employ to advance (or at least not sabotage!) her romantic goals – whether her aim is simply to meet someone new or have her current relationship evolve toward something more permanent.  Here are a few Rules-based tips that can help women honor themselves, attract the opposite sex, and keep sane through the holidays:

DO take advantage of the seasonal color scheme to wear more red.  It worked for Santa, and it will work for you too.  Research shows men may be more attracted to women in red. Several articles published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that women wearing red were rated more sexually desirable than those wearing “cooler” hues like green or brown. Whether it’s socially conditioned or an evolved biological cue, the upshot is that donning scarlet could help you heat things up. And while you’re wearing your holiday brights, make sure you…

DON’T give into holiday blues. Impending Christmas and New Year’s can make even the most self-reliant single girl feel lonely and bereft as she bemoans the gulf between her current lot and her dreams of being in a committed relationship. The holiday season can also be tense for women with boyfriends – particularly when their hopes for the future are being obscured by his ambivalence or excuses.  Keep busy, engage your mind, exercise your body and pamper your senses to avoid wallowing in or obsessing about what’s lacking in your life right now.  Then…

DO start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions that can help you meet your romantic goals. For example, if you’re tired of being single, maybe it’s time for you to finally start online dating — or if you’re on one site, join one or two more (it’s a numbers game, and in order to be selective you need to expand your pool of potential candidates). Maybe you need to tweak – or makeover – your online profile so it’s less wordy and heavy, more breezy and open. One of my clients just doubled the number of e-mails she was receiving, simply by changing her screen name, updating her photos, and editing her profile so it reflected her fun-loving, not-so-serious side. But…

DON’T check your online dating account over the holidays. As I tell the women I coach, try to set parameters around when you sign into your accounts. I usually suggest you confine checking to daytime hours on weekdays. Not only is it unhealthy to be compulsively checking your account at all hours of the day, many services indicate when members are online. You don’t need to broadcast to potential dates that you’re home alone on a Saturday night – or a Christmas Eve. Instead of lurking online…

DO hit the holiday party circuit, looking gorgeous and smiling at the universe. If you’re single these events can help you circulate in a social setting where men can find you. And if you’re attached, but feel your significant other may be taking you for granted then stop sitting home by the phone.  Enjoying your life to the fullest – and keeping busy with family, friends, work, and social engagements – reminds him you are an independent woman whose life does not revolve around him.

DON’T pick him up at the airport. Especially if he hasn’t asked you to! Don’t be the schlepping wife-wannabe. Be his Dreamgirl. Let him arrange for his own transportation. Instead of waiting in traffic, circling the terminal, and showing up as a frazzled mess – go get a mani/pedi, blowout, etc. It may seem counter-intuitive, but acting like a wife – the home-cooked meals, the chauffeur service, the decorating his apartment – will not make him want to marry you. If anything, it will push him further away. AND you’ll end up feeling resentful when your generosity isn’t reciprocated with commitment and appreciation.

DO your own thing during the holidays, instead of relying on the guy you’re dating to make all the plans (and include you in them). If he hasn’t suggested spending the holidays together then make your own arrangements. This includes New Year’s Eve! Introduce him to your friends and family ONLY AFTER he has introduced you to his. If he feels you’re more serious about the relationship than he is, or that you’re moving faster than he wants to then he may start having doubts and possibly pull away, leaving you vulnerable and hurt.

DON’T buy him lavish gifts. By “lavish” I don’t necessarily mean expensive. One client – okay, alright, it was me! – tried to impress a beau by creating a handmade card by cutting out little phrases and pet names from magazines, then gluing them onto construction paper. At the time this seemed like a good idea, though in retrospect it’s mortifyingly psycho – an impression obviously shared by the object of my attention, since he dumped me right after the holidays! Men get overwhelmed when women go overboard in the gift department. They may be flattered. They may be psyched – as in, “Wow!  A 58” Plasma HDTV?!?!”  But they will also see your extremely generous gift as a symbol of your intense love – which they no longer have to win – and possibly, a reflection of your high expectations in return, which they may start wondering whether they can (or want) to fulfill. Another common dating mistake:  buying presents for his mother, sister, secretary, etc. thinking this will help build a pro-marry-you coalition of sympathetic females. If you’re just bursting with the giving spirit this season, then…

DO volunteer. Of course this is a year-round “do,” but the holidays often present additional opportunities to volunteer, which in addition to benefiting others, can benefit your love life as well. How? Aside from the immediate benefit of putting you in the flow of meeting men who share your charitable interests, volunteering will help refresh your perspective on what’s important in life, and renewing your sense of gratitude for the blessings in your life. Both can help keep bitterness at bay – thus not only making the dating slog more bearable, but also enhancing that all-alluring aphrodisiac: inner-contentment and joy.

Need more help? Sign up for your own free 10-minute consultation by visiting

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What does the girl who’s been happily dating her boyfriend for several months really want for Christmas this year?

An engagement ring.

Christmas music and movies have helped stoke seasonal-hopes for happy endings.  Think of the lovers who “face unafraid, the plans that [they] made, while walking in a Winter Wonderland.”  Or Miracle on 34th Street, in which Santa helps shepherd a couple to marriage plans over the holidays.

That isn’t to suggest that such aspirations for a Christmas or Hanukkah or New Year’s engagement are culturally contrived.  To the contrary, NOTHING could be more natural than for a woman in love with hopes for marriage and possibly children to wish to see her dreams reciprocated during a season centering around family, tradition, and reflections on the year behind and that ahead.

I’m not talking about a movie timeline, like the one referenced above, where Maureen O’Hara meets her handsome neighbor on Thanksgiving and he pops the question on Christmas Day.  I’m talking about the couple that’s been happily dating for at least nine months, that is in an exclusive relationship, in which the man has unambiguously declared his love, and at least hinted at his intentions for the future.

The weeks and months leading up to engagement may sound like an ideal, shining time for a woman – and in many ways it is: you’ve moved beyond the awkwardness of early dating to greater intimacy, security and trust.  But as I can attest from my coaching practice, it can also be an incredibly nerve-wracking time as well!  You’re doing your darnedest to practice patience, keep things light and focus on the present, and yet all these feelings of doubt, ambivalence and even resentment keep bubbling up – particularly if you’ve been dating for over a year, or even years, plural!

Why?  Well, because something is awry in the balance of your relationship.  Your boyfriend – whom you dearly love – appears to be getting most, if not all, of his needs met.  He’s got a lover, a committed girlfriend, and possibly even a faux-wife if you’ve fallen into the error of acting like you were married – e.g. cooking for him, spending too much time with him, letting him see you whenever he wants, keeping clothes at his place, etc.  In fact, he might be happy with this arrangement for years.  I mean, why not?

But what about you?  Are you getting all of your needs yet?  My hunch is “no,” otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog.  Maybe you’d like to have children one day – and if he’s not going to end up being the father, you might want to make other plans.  Maybe you’re thinking of a career switch or geographic move, and don’t want to keep putting your life on hold while he makes up his mind.  Or maybe you’re just tired of seeing all your friends getting engaged and married around you – and wondering why your boyfriend seems assiduously dedicated to not noticing the trend.

So what can you do?  Here are few pointers:

1) Check your timing. When it comes to fumbling your part of the engagement process, the mistakes women make fall into one of two categories.  They either bring up marriage too early (in the first few months of dating) – scaring men away — or let the issue slide for years as their frustration and despair grows.  In a recent seminar in London, The Rules authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider told their audience that it’s okay to ask where things are going about seven months into the relationship.  In the “ideal” Rules timeline, he proposes after nine months.  Certainly by a year you should know whether he plans to marry you or not.

2) Inventory the relationship. Who initiated the relationship?  If you met on-line, did you respond to his ad – or vice versa?  Who’s done most of the contacting?  Has he said he loved you, and asked for exclusivity?    Obviously not all relationships are headed toward marriage – however long they may have lasted.  But if he was the pursuer, and you’ve done him the honor of letting him retain that role throughout the courtship, then your odds of engagement are vastly better than if you picked him up, called him, asked him out, etc.

3) Stop making excuses for him – as in “he’s still scarred by his first marriage,” or “he’s under too much pressure at work,” or he can’t commit because of childhood trauma, and other such mind games.   Also, don’t let him snooker you into pretending that marriage isn’t important or doesn’t matter IF it IS important to YOU and DOES matter to YOU.  In He’s Just Not That Into You, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo argue that “Love cures commitment-phobia”:

“Every man you have ever dated who has said he doesn’t want to get married or doesn’t believe in marriage or has ‘issues’ with marriage, will, rest assured, someday be married.  It will just never be with you.  Because he’s not really saying he doesn’t want to get married.  He’s saying he doesn’t want to get married to you.”

Harsh – but liberating truth – which, the sooner you accept, the sooner you’ll be able to move out from under the dead weight of a potentially going-nowhere relationship so that your real future husband can find you!

4) Scale back on togetherness.
Of course you want to be with him day in and day out – that’s why you want to get married!  But if you’re with him all or even most of the time, you’ve robbed him of any incentive to move things forward.  Ellen and Sherrie say it best in The Rules II:

“In general, the way to get a man to ask you to marry him in a reasonable amount of time is not to live with him before you’re engaged or married and to continue to see him only three times a week, even though by this time you want to be inseparable.  If that doesn’t work, you may have to shake things up a little bit – go away for a weekend with a girlfriend, cancel a Saturday night date, get very busy at work, mention that you are renewing your apartment lease, and be mysterious about your activities.  All of the above should make him anxious to propose.”

5) Set some internal deadlines. How long do you want to date your boyfriend without being engaged?  While I mention that he should know where this is going after a year, maybe you’re not marriage-minded yet – or are still reeling from a divorce.  Once you HAVE decided that you want to marry him, set in mind a month when you’d like to aim for resolution.  At that point it’s perfectly okay for you to ask him his intentions.  He doesn’t need to respond with a proposal – but if you don’t get a clear sense that he’s either planning something or seriously thinking in that direction, you need to be prepared to walk.

Even if you’re in the somewhat early stages of dating – nowhere near where you should be talking about marriage – the holidays DO provide an ideal time to look for signs of whether the man you’re seeing is serious about you.  Does he give you a romantic – or practical gift?  The man who gives you inexpensive lingerie from T.J. Maxx is more likely to end up proposing than the one who gives you an expensive cashmere scarf from Loro Piana.  Does make plans in advance for New Year’s Eve?  Does he include you in family gatherings?  Does he talk about what you’ll be doing “next year”?  Does he want to be with you, even when you’ve come down with the seasonal flu?  If he’s making you feel warm and cozy this winter – then there could yet be time to plan a June wedding.  But if you’re feeling a bit drafty, then maybe multi-dating should be on your list of New Year’s Resolutions.

Still wondering about whether current boyfriend will end up as future husband?  Then try a free ten minute consultation by visiting www.maliburulesgirl.com.

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