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Posts Tagged ‘Holiday Dating’

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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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.

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Is communication the key to long-lasting relationships? Not according to Sean Connery. The former James Bond star credits the language barrier for the longevity of 30-year marriage to his French wife, Micheline. Though no paragon of husbandly virtues, Connery may be on to something. 

As a dating coach I see over-communication spoiling relationships far more often than lack of communication, particularly in the early stages of dating. A language barrier is an extreme – though highly effective – means of preventing you from opening up too fast.

I learned the surprising advantages of language barriers in love when I met a handsome Brazilian surfer. At the time Raphael’s English was limited, and to this day I can barely speak a word of Portuguese. Such lack of fluency might seem like an obstacle to deep rapport, but I credit the language barrier for fast-tracking the relationship to proposal and marriage within a year.

Counterintuitive, I’ll grant you, but consider the benefits of constrained communication:

  • No man-terrifying “relationship talks.”
  • Fewer heated debates about stem cell research and Oscar predictions.
  • Less ambiguity about date logistics (aware of the language barrier, he nails down date/time/place to avoid any misunderstanding).
  • Exotic charm of endearments uttered in a foreign tongue.
  • And most importantly: less conversation, more kissing.

Of course, language-barrier love is not without its drawbacks:

  • It can promote over-emphasis on physical (vs. intellectual) compatibility.
  • Silences can stretch out longer than you may like.
  • No way to eavesdrop on his conversations with his mother or friends.
  • And last but not least, the things you thought you understood about your partner may later not turn out to be true.

Moreover, while a language barrier can fan a romantic “spark” into an abiding flame, it won’t substitute for that initial physical attraction and its underlying, ineffable, almost spiritual connection. Worse, a language barrier can backfire when a woman pursues a man, becoming the all-purpose excuse for why he didn’t call when he said he would, forgot Valentine’s Day, hasn’t introduced you to his friends, etc.

Consider the story of Kate, who met and developed a wild crush on Antoine while vacationing in France. A can-do media executive, Kate decided to “make it happen” with Antoine, getting him a job stateside and plunging him into her elite social circle. Antoine was grateful for the help, and happy enough to sleep with her. But even as his English improved, and Kate became eagerly fluent in French, he never managed those most basic expressions by which relationships evolve, such as “I love you,” and “Let’s not see other people.”

Even when a man initiates the relationship – you can easily turn him off by pestering him with questions, pouring out your heart, or complaining endlessly about your problems. When you both speak the same language these pitfalls can be hard to avoid – especially when he prods you with overly-personal questions on your first few dates. Fortunately, you don’t have to feign a thick foreign accent to reap the benefits of a language barrier in love. Give these few tips a try:

  • Don’t talk so much on dates. “Men fall in love with your essence, not with anything in particular you say,” observe Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein, authors of The Rules. So don’t feel the need to rack your brain to come up with witty conversation.
  • Banish uncomfortable silences – NOT by filling them up with forced chatter – but by learning to be comfortable with quiet.
  • Don’t treat a potential mate as your therapist, revealing details of previous relationships, your illnesses or emotional issues, job problems, etc.
  • If angry or hurt, wait 24 hours to air the issue with your partner. This waiting period will help you respond (vs. react) while separating important conflicts from inconsequential disagreements.

Those of us (bloggers in particular!) who love to express ourselves may have a hard time grasping the benefits of saying less — let alone an outright language barrier. But just as printing too much money can diminish the value of the dollar, so can speaking too effusively diminish the value of what is said. Edward R. Murrow would be the last man to dismiss the importance of communication, yet even he recognized its limits when he observed: “People say conversation is a lost art; how often have I wished it were.”

Jag Carrao is a dating and relationship coach

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How to avoid the disappointments and aggravation of online dating? Girlfriends, you know what I’m talking about: the “no-show” flakes, the chronic complainers, the promising first couple of dates that lead nowhere? The answer is all in selection.

Signing up for online dating can be a little like learning to surf. The Internet offers up plenty of men to meet. The ocean offers up endless waves to ride. Pick the wrong ones and you’ll waste time and energy, occasionally suffering wipeouts which can leave you dazed, distracted and dispirited when the right man or wave comes along.

Fortunately, men will signal their intentions and level of interest, usually in their very first e-mail. You just need to know what to look out for. My goal for the women I coach is to go from receiving a few dozen e-mails a month to a few hundred, at which point weeding out the unsuitable and the unserious becomes of paramount importance. So here are some of the most obvious online dating “flags” I suggest you use to steer clear of players and time-wasters:

  1. Winkers are wankers. Beware if he sends you a “wink” or a “smile” instead of a proper, written e-mail. I guarantee that the man who will ultimately want to marry you will not send you a “wink.” Please don’t be fooled into thinking he’s “shy” or just intimidated by your fabulousness. Yes, it’s possible he’s a wimp or insecure (and therefore not really robust dating material anyway). But it’s far more likely he’s e-blasting winks to innumerable women to see what kind of responses he’ll solicit. Winks demonstrate laziness and lack of specific, intense interest in you that will invariably show up later in letdowns, small and large.EXCEPTION: He sends you a “wink” and then, when you don’t wink back, mans up with an e-mail and asks for your numberTIP: Treat online winks like whistles you might elicit on a busy city street. Maybe you’re inwardly flattered, but generally you ignore such attention. You certainly don’t whistle back – or go and start a conversation! See if your online dating site allows you to set your preferences to block winks, so that you won’t be tempted down this time-wasting path.
  2. Subject bars that go “Hmmmmmmm…”  You do not want to date Mr. Hmmmmm…Hold out for Mr. WOW!!! “Hmmmm” may be Man Code for many things (e.g., “sleeping with you might be interesting,” or “I’m bored so please entertain me with witty online banter”). It signals ambivalence and/or arrogance – not decisiveness and determination.EXCEPTION: He bounces back from annoying “Hmmm” header in body of e-mail with upbeat, enthusiastic commentary on your profile and a pitch for getting together.TIP: If you’re having trouble understanding why “Hmmmm” is problematic, then try this exercise.  Start imagining yourself as your favorite, sexiest, most desirable celebrity – Angelina, Beyonce, Gisele, etc.  No man who truly recognizes you for the Dreamgirl you are would risk alienating – or even confusing – you with such a lame, passive-aggressive come-on. If you MUST reply, write back “Hmmm yourself” – and NOTHING else. He gets one do-over, no more.
  3. He has no picture posted – or, on the other extreme, he’s got a veritable picture gallery displayed. There’s really no good reason for an unmarried, normal looking man not to have a picture publicly available if he’s got an online dating account. Conversely, the man with multiple photos may be on an ego trip. And if he’s got pictures of himself with another woman – even cropped out – then just don’t even go there!EXCEPTION: A man can e-mail you his photo directly, but it’s still a red flag if he’s hiding it on his profile. Online dating is now ubiquitous and destigmatized, so regard excuses about his “high profile job” and the like with a grain of salt.TIP: Maybe you’re more inclined to give faceless men a chance because you yourself have declined to post your own photo. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I understand that especially when you’re new to the world of online dating, it can feel more comfortable to enter in stages. But at the end of the day, men are visual creatures – they either like your look or they don’t. It is okay to spend some time getting the right photo – but don’t waste time dilly dallying and dragging your feet about posting it.
  4. He sends a form letter. These are not always obvious. He may generously share details about himself – or even pay you general compliments, which are bound to flatter. But if this e-mail makes no mention of anything specific from your profile, then it could have been addressed to dozens of other women on the web (and most likely has been and will be). I remember one woman I was coaching was so excited to have received a “Hi Gorgeous!” e-mail from a hunk who told her all about his job as a pilot and his deep desire for passionate communication with a soul mate. Unfortunately, he’d written an identical e-mail to another woman I knew. Busted!EXCEPTION: A brief, concise e-mail that expresses general interest in your profile and a desire to communicate with you may – or may not – be a form letter, but at least it doesn’t insult you by pretending to be something else.TIP: Delete, delete, delete. The only things you will be “missing out on” by ignoring such dating spam are headaches and heartaches. If you absolutely must respond keep it ultra-short, as in, “You sound nice.” No more!  Why should you spend more effort coming up with an original reply to a cut-and-pasted query? If he sends back something snarky, that just proves he was never really interested to begin with.
  5. He’s asking plenty of questions – Where did you grow up? What do you like to do for fun? How long have you been on (such and such dating site)? – except the MOST IMPORTANT ONE: “Can I have your number?” In The Rules for Online Dating, authors Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein say that if a man hasn’t asked for your number is four e-mails then he’s a “Next!” If you have time and interest in cultivating male pen pals then that is one thing. I know one woman who e-mailed back and forth with a man who lived in another state for months, and finally graduated into long phone conversations that continued for a year. Then he married someone else. She was devastated. She’s got a naturally generous nature, but she’s learned to be more generous with herself by setting stricter boundaries about how much of her time she’ll give satisfying others’ emotional needs while ignoring her own.EXCEPTION: There is no exception. A man who lets time pass while five, ten, fifteen e-mails are exchanged is not that eager to meet you and certainly not worried about other men swooping in and snapping you up. However, if after receiving no reply to further e-mails discussing the weather and politics, he somehow wakes up to ask for your number then you can give it to him, though do not be surprised if he turns out to be equally dilatory in phone conversation and plan setting.TIP: Keep your replies short and sweet, light and breezy. No more than a sentence or two. You’re a busy woman with lots of admirers, friends, projects and interests. If he truly wants to get to know you better – and you’re not available for long e-mail correspondence (or long phone conversations, for that matter) – he’ll have no recourse than to step up and ask for a date.

If you’re a thick-skinned, even-keeled kind of girl who bounces back easily from rejection and is really only looking for fun, then the protective measures outlined above may not be applicable. But if you’re a more passionate, sensitive type – especially one who’s “hit bottom” romantically with an excruciating break-up – and you’re not embarrassed to admit (to yourself, anyway) that you’d like to get married, maybe start a family, or at least enjoy a loving, stable, long-term relationship, then maybe it’s time for you to try a radically different approach. Maybe it’s time to raise your standards, to expect better, to deserve more. Recognizing – and avoiding – the Mr. Maybes and Mr. Wrongs is the vital first step toward clearing the way for Mr. Right.

Jag Carrao is a dating and relationship coach
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“We all make mistakes.”  Nowhere is the cliché more apt than when it comes to relationships.  As a dating coach, I’ve been privileged to help other women recognize and break free of self-defeating patterns and habits that have kept them from realizing the relationship of their dreams.

The most common dating mistakes often spring from underlying issues of self-esteem (think too little of yourself, and you’ll settle for less-than-ideal situations – think too much of yourself, and you believe bad behavior is absolved by your sheer fabulousness).  More often, dating doozies result from failure to recognize – or simply accept – the different ways men and women approach relationships.  Then there’s the lack of faith in the abundance of the universe – the anxious sense of scarcity that propels us to “make things happen,” instead of letting them unfold.

Fortunately, you’re not alone.  It’s uncanny how the women I coach all tend to commit the same mistakes (five of which I’ve outlined below).  Moreover, correcting the errors of your ways can be done with a bit of practice.  To avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again, first you’ve got to recognize them.  So here goes:

Dating Mistake #1: Approaching Him First. I know this goes against conventional dating advice, which encourages women to flirt and even strike up a conversation. While there are always exceptions, the women I coach who are struggling with boyfriends who won’t commit or husbands who ignore them almost invariably made the first contact. A man may date and even marry a woman who approached him first, but there will likely be consequences later on…when he approaches the girl he really wants. This goes for online dating as well.

Quick Fix: If you talked to him first or even asked him out, you can try to restore some of the feminine mystique you forfeited as the initiator by being a bit more elusive – a little less available, a little more mysterious. If he’s truly smitten by you, he’ll rise to the challenge and cherish you more. If not, then let him float away now, before he wastes more of your time and ends up breaking your heart. In the future, please, trust in the universe! Look approachable and friendly – that’s all the encouragement your future (adoring) husband needs.

Dating Mistake #2: Acting overly chummy. You’ve just met the guy and you’re telling him about the back-stabber in your office, the fight you had with your sister, the details of your recent root canal. Yuck! During the first few dates, the man is still essentially a stranger. Women who share intimate details of their lives and emotions too soon come across as desperate and neurotic.

Quick Fix: Recognize that the more you talk about yourself, the less you’ll be listening and observing whether he is right for you. Identify why you feel the need to yammer on — nervousness, low tolerance for awkward silences, desire to impress with witty banter and accomplishments – and remember that you are not there to audition, but to relax and have a good time.

Dating Mistake #3: Accepting last minute dates. You need to show (not tell) men that you’re a busy woman, with lots of friends, deadlines, projects and prospects (including romantic ones). When you accept so-called “spontaneous” invitations for the next day or even same evening, you send the message you’ve got nothing going on in your life – or nothing that important, since you’re willing to drop everything to accommodate him. Let a man treat you like a fast-food drive-thru (put his order in at the window then pull up to get his grub) and that’s how he’ll view you. Fancy restaurants – and fancy girls – require reservations made well in advance. What you reward you encourage.

Quick Fix: To make sure you’re his “Plan A” girl (not the “Plan B” girl he calls after his first choice turns him down), I recommend setting a firm cut-off limit after which you’re “busy” – period. Having trained with The Rules authors, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, I recommend their “three days in advance” rule – e.g., he calls by Wednesday night to ask you for Saturday.

Dating Mistake #4: Jumping into a “whirlwind romance.” If your love life looks a bit like Jennifer Aniston’s, your 0-to-60 relationships might benefit from a judicious application of the break pedal. Yes, speed bumps can be annoying, but without them you’d end up driving too fast, without adequate time to observe, maneuver and react. Again, The Rules remind us: “Men fall in love quickly – but they also fall out of love quickly.” Sure, it can be flattering, even exhilarating, when a man you’ve just met wants to see you several times a week and talk to you for hours on the phone. But unfortunately the result is a white-hot romance that burns brightly and then fizzles out.

Quick Fix: You need to start pacing the relationship. Don’t see him more than once or twice a week, don’t talk more than ten minutes on the phone, don’t open up too fast, or introduce him to your friends before he introduces you to his. If he absolutely must see you every day, 24-hours-a-day, there’s this arrangement called marriage…let him figure it out! A wise woman once observed: “It’s the spaces in between seeing you when a man falls in love and discovers the true depth of his longing.”

Dating Mistake #5: Wasting Time. We’ve all been guilty of this one, at some point in our lives or another. Wasting time – either in a relationship that’s going nowhere or getting over a heartbreak – is one of the biggest and most common mistakes women make. As Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo exhort the lovelorn in He’s Just Not that Into You: “Don’t waste the pretty!”

Quick Fix: Know what you want – and believe you deserve it. If you want to get married but the guy you’ve been dating for over a year still isn’t sure, set a time limit of how long you’re willing to wait then stick to it. Once D-Day (decision day) arrives, and he’s still waffling, then move on and do not look back (if he’s ever going to know and man up to a proposal, this will be your best – and his last – chance). If you’re still wallowing in despair over a break up, then put your profile on-line, start going to singles events, and let friends know you’re available for set-ups. There is no better “healing” than the attention of several new suitors.

Jag Carrao is a dating and relationship coach

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