Currently viewing the tag: "dating advice"

Listen, up…we have to listen to what we hear and see what we see and stop making up fantasies when we’re handed a bunch of crap!

Anyone heard this story before?:  Leah and Fred have been dating for a little while (plug in 3 weeks or 3 months here) and Leah starts to get fed up that Fred is never available (plug in here Fred is fed up with Leah) and decides to end the relationship in a reasonable and responsible way:

“This really isn’t working out for me.  I think we have different needs for a relationship.”  No blaming, no shaming…just we are two adults who aren’t looking for the same things, right?

Commence the storm of nasty texts, ALL CAPITALIZED WITH !!!!*&^*(!!!! full of nasty comments, accusations, criticisms of everything about her/him.  Reaction?  Really, what…?  We didn’t even have a commitment of any kind and they react this harshly?

Ignore the texts, don’t answer the phone, don’t read the emails for a few days and you think it’ll blow over.  Whew!

What do you think happens next?

He/she shows up at her/his workplace with flowers, apologies, offers of fun and expensive things to do together….you can’t believe it!

What would you do?  Do you think going back will mean a change and a better relationship?  What clues lead you to believe that?

Unfortunately many people are tempted to and do go back into this snake pit expecting a different result.  It rarely turns out well but we talk ourselves into believing it can.

Ask yourself this question:  How can this wound be healed?  How can a person make up for having said such horrible and hurtful things?  If this happened so early in a relationship, what makes you think it won’t happen again?

I want to tell you this fact:  There are plenty of nice people out there who could love you just the way you are…you don’t need to SETTLE for anyone who doesn’t have  basic human respect!

Time to move on, respect yourself and your life and let it go.


After years of dating badly and marrying badly ( for some of us), it can be hard to break the old habits and patterns.

One pattern that many, except Jane The Virgin, fall into is jumping into sex right way.  My belief is that people do this somewhat because of lust and libido but mostly out of fear of loss and abandonment.  There’s a subconscious belief, even though we’ve been proven wrong many times, that if we have sex with someone it will mean there is love and that person will be committed and stay.

Sex means different things to different people.  Some think it means love and commitment and connections while others are just scratching the itch.  Don’t assume.

If sex is a relationship cementing act for you, do you really think YOU can know that you want to be with this person forever in a first date??  Get real!  Neither of you know each other no matter how many deep conversations you have, no matter how many things you feel you have in common.  There is no such thing as “Love At First Sight”.  Sometimes people who are attracted to each other can build on the initial plunge, but it’s not a given that the initial attraction will make a relationship work.  Really not.

So make sure that, before you do Relationship-Cementing activities,  you really like and value and respect the person you are doing them with.  Don’t do anything if you’re not sure you want to be with them and build a relationship.  How long do you think it takes to know that?  I’m thinking it takes Four Seasons and even then people can change.

Also, if you’re having sex with someone early on, do you really know that they are not doing the same thing with someone else?  Ask yourself, how would you feel about doing this sexual stuff with them knowing they’re doing it with someone else?  If you’re OK with it, go ahead.  But if you’d be hurt, jealous, feel shame or less than…don’t do it!

Take things slow.  Slow and steady wins the race.  What’s the hurry?  Oftentimes when you wait and see,what you see you will not really like.  Wait for it……

Not everyone has the same goals in mind when they enter the Dating World and if you don’t know that fact you are likely to be surprised and disappointed in most of your attempts at relationships.

Most people assume that everyone out in the Dating World has the same goals in mind. If we are looking for True Love followed by marriage and kids, or no kids, we assume that’s what everyone we date is looking for too. We believe it is the Right Way and the Only Way to live life and have relationships.

The fact is that everyone has the right to date however they want to…but really, they should be honest and upfront so we don’t waste each other’s time!

Here is a basic list of kinds of dating people may be focusing on:


These folks want to find The Right One, settle down, marry, have kids or not have kids and spend the rest of their lives with someone.

When dating they are looking at how they might fit together forever, how their kids would look, how their families would get along, whether or not they’d be financially stable and if they’d enjoy growing old together.


Serial Daters like to have long term monogamous relationships but don’t necessarily expect them to last a lifetime. They may have started out being a Commitment Dater but have given up over time as their relationships have ended badly.

They may have a secret hope that they could still meet The Right One but have become used to having a series of short relationships. These relationships might last anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years.


Some people choose to date several people at a time. They may think of long term commitment as something they see in their future or they may not.

They may choose to date 2-5 people at a time or they might think it’s fun to meet as many people as they fit in their schedule.

They might tell you that’s their plan or they might encourage you to believe that you are the only one they are seeing and that they are just so busy they can’t get to see you very much.


For many people having sex is more important than having emotional intimacy. Or emotional intimacy makes them uncomfortable.

Whatever the reasoning, they are ready, willing and able to have sex but when you try to actually have a RELATIONSHIP you will never find them.

Sometimes they are honest and just look for hook-ups online or at a bar but many will go to dating sites and pretend to be looking for relationships. For some of them there is a thrill to the game of fooling others.


Predators are looking for gullible people who will help them get something they need. They might need somewhere to live because they are addicts of some kind. They might see that you have a job and a place to live and strive to get you feeling sorry for them so you’ll take care of them and their needs.

They might be using you to hurt their exes and drag you into their drama.

If you have children, they might be hoping to get access to your children to abuse them physically or sexually. They might want to hurt you physically or sexually or emotionally. That might be what they need to feel good about themselves.

Think about these different kinds of people/daters as you go out into the dating world. And remember that not all of them will be honest with you about what their real goals and intentions are.

Think about what your goals are. Honestly.

Take time to get to know people before you get sexual and serious.

Be very clear with people you date about what your goals are. They won’t always listen or hear you so say it more than once.

Listen to what they say and listen to what they do. Ask them what they mean. Ask them more than once.

(Disclaimer: I’m going to write about women and their money in this blog even though I know it goes both ways. I don’t think it’s OK for anyone to take advantage of another person financially. What is happening with women and their money is new and disturbing and needs to be highlighted. I’ll do another blog later for you guys out there.)

In the past few years I have been hearing disturbing stories about how money plays out in some relationships.  It seems to be rising to epidemic proportions. To wit:

Women are getting involved with men who:

  •     Don’t work or are underemployed
  •     Are depressed, anxious and underfunctioning
  •     Don’t have sex with them
  •     Don’t like their friends and family so they get cut off from their support network and get isolated
  •     Put them down, criticize and abuse them
  •     Take their money and lie about money, putting them in debt or forcing them into bankruptcy and foreclosure
  •     Borrow money or talk them into investing in things or businesses, often with little hope of success and no legal or moral responsibility to repay  the loan
  •     Manipulate them into doing things they would not ordinarily do by  threatening to stop loving them or by saying you don’t love them if you don’t do as they ask

So I thought I would weigh in with some advice and commentary on this alarming trend.

Stop! Don’t be that girl.  You can Date Smarter and learn how bad dating habits can lead to bad relationships.  Learn now or you may learn a heartbreakingly costly lesson later.

Here are a few of the most common scenarios of where smart women can get caught up in in bad relationships:

(If you have a unique scenario that doesn’t quite fit in with the examples above, by all means please comment and share! I’d love to hear  your story!)

Scenario #1: “The ConMan or Player”

Man and woman meet, get close and the man starts telling the woman there is a crisis in his life and he needs money right away or he won’t be able to avert some disaster.  Even a wise woman can be conned.  He has shown her he has a job and reliable friends, maybe he’s even shown her fancy cars or taken her to look at million dollar properties he’s considering buying.  So she figures he’s legit and will be able to pay her back, just as he says he will.  Sometimes he will even pay her back the first time or two to gain her trust but over time the payback isn’t in full or never comes.  If she complains or voices concern he gets upset that she doesn’t trust or support him.  She gives in to the bad deal to avoid relational conflict.

When the money’s gone, often times so is the guy.

Scenario #2: “The Lost Soul or Victim”

Man and woman meet and are in a relationship, maybe married, maybe not.  He may have a job, initially, and lose it or quit to do something else.  He may decide to go back to school.  She’s working at a career she loves and is making good money and feels good about supporting him while he finds his niche.

Time goes on and he keeps changing jobs or majors, things happen and he drops out or takes a break from school.  She feels sorry for him and he tells her he feels badly about not being able to provide better for her.  Maybe they have a few kids. She might feel trapped and resentful but she loves him and wants him to be happy.  He may be doing a lot of the housework and childcare or she may still be doing all of that because he can’t seem to cope, or isn’t good at it or he’s busy trying to make his plans work.
He may take money out of joint accounts or retirement without discussing it and she ends up not having money to pay the bills.
He may even take out business loans using their home or other assets as collateral without telling her.  Yes, this can happen!  Check your credit reports! Time goes on and nothing changes.  She’s overwhelmed, resentful and feeling hopeless and trapped.

Scenario #3:  “The Self-Centered Man”

Man and woman meet and fall in love.  Maybe they get married and have kids, maybe not.  He makes good money but he’s rigid, doesn’t like to share.  He insists on keeping money separate and has strong, learned opinions on what he should pay for and what he shouldn’t have to pay for.  She’s new to this so she goes along, assuming that he knows better or that it will change as their relationship evolves.  Time goes by.  Somehow she has ended up paying for anything that is for her and the children.  Any of the family trips and fun activities come out of her money.  He hides his money and what he is doing from her.  He buys himself toys and goes on trips without her and the kids.  He says he deserves it because he works so hard. She is feeling overwhelmed and scared and resentful and is living with a man who doesn’t know how to share and connect, or worse, simply does not care.

What is going on with women these days that they are willing to do these things?  I think we are raised with a different and confusing attitude about earning money, having money, having a career, being communal and what our role is in a relationship vis a vis money.

I remember, once, having a conversation with my brother.  I asked him if he had ever thought he might not have to work and he said no.  I was in my 20’s and starting to realize I was not necessarily going to find some rich guy to take care of me.  I was in grad school and starting out on my career.  I wasn’t even sure I wanted that kind of a relationship.  I was conflicted:  did I want to go the traditional route or did I want to be “a modern, liberated and independent woman?”

Does being independent and liberated mean we have to support everyone else too?  Why do women tolerate men who are not independent and responsible?

Women still are being raised to believe they have that choice, even though it is rare for a woman or a family to have the luxury of her being able to afford to stay home.  We learn to see our money and careers as secondary, in a sense.  Our models showed us that mens incomes were primary and we are also socialized to be more communal or relationally focused.  We grow up learning to share.  We are never taught what to do when others are not sharing equally with us.  We are supposed to be nice girls and do the right thing (which is to share and not ask for too much for ourselves).

We do not start off with a clear idea of what we want our relationships to be like financially.  We don’t have our standards set ahead of time.

It is not in our realm of thinking that a man would not contribute or want to contribute or support us.  We don’t hear about these stories and assume the best of the men we love.  We are not prepared.  We are gullible and naive.

For those of you who are caught up in these or similar relationships, here are some ways to try to change your situation:

1. Re-open “Fairness” Communications. Have a clear conversation with your partner about what you are thinking and feeling.  Tell them what you want and what needs to change for you to be happy and stay in the relationship.  It’s always good to start off believing that they want things to get better and want the best for you. Talking openly and honestly is the respectful way to communicate and strive for resolution.
* If you are contributing all or most of the money and/or are doing all or most of the work in the house and family, sit down and list it all out and attribute a value for the work. The value will include how much time it takes, how much physical energy and how much responsibility it is. Then look at who is doing what and see if it’s even or fair. If not, sit down and talk to your partner/family and divide the list up fairly. And then, only do what’s on your list!
* If your partner is not working or is underachieving you can tell them what you expect from them and by what date. If they are not able to find work, discuss how money will be handled and what other responsibilities they can take on in exchange for contributing financially.

2.  Set Healthy Boundaries:

*  Be responsible with and in control of your money even if they aren’t or don’t like it when you are making the decisions.  That might mean taking full control of it and telling them you will not support their activities or things they want to invest in.
*  Separate your finances and open bank accounts in your name only that your partner doesn’t have access to.  This can be a huge relief and a first step in making your life more manageable. If you do not make enough money you might have to make hard decisions like bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce and moving on alone.

3.  Seek Professional Support.

* Take emotion out of decision-making.
* Talk to a financial advisor and ask their advice about your particular situation.
* If married or in a common law arrangement, talk to a lawyer about specific statutes pertaining to your situation. Find out the facts about your rights are and what you could expect if divorce or separation becomes an option.  Even if you are not ready for that decision it is good to have the information at the ready.  Sometimes we keep ourselves scared or paralyzed about things we think could or might happen when the actual facts aren’t half as bad as we imagine.  Most lawyers will do a free consultation and lay out options to give you a general idea of what to expect before you’d have to pay out a retainer.

* Get professional therapy. A therapist will give you the objective, unvarnished truth about the work you have to do to build or rebuild your confidence and self esteem and so you can set health boundaries which can help prevent you from repeating bad patterns.

4.  Seek Emotional Support.
* Go to Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings and get support for setting boundaries and ideas of how to set them and take care of yourself.  Learn how living the 12 Steps can benefit your mental health and relationships.  Don’t believe him when he tells you that setting boundaries means you don’t love him.
* Develop a network close friends who understand your situation that you can rely on to talk to openly…and listen to them!

Obviously, the best thing to do is to not get caught up in these bad patterns from the beginning.  For those of you who are out there looking for Mr Right, you have to keep your eyes wide open and think clearly about the people you meet. Arm yourself with knowledge and awareness of your vulnerabilities and which red flags you must avoid that will allow you to get so attached in the first place. When the red flags start waving, it’s better to head for the exit sooner, rather than, later.

So how do you know these things before you get too attached to someone?

First, think of every interaction with someone in a dating situation as a “test”. Establish healthy criteria for and clear expectations of what you want. Then you must make sure you start out from the beginning, setting the boundaries and giving the messages you want to give. If you pay for the men at the beginning the message you give is that you have plenty of money and don’t mind giving it away. Establish from the outset that you are not and will not become a pushover, healthy potential partners will respect you for it and “players” will be discouraged and head for greener pastures and easier “marks”.

The nice guys I have talked to say they like to be able to pay for women when they go out, that it makes them feel like a Gentleman. Like opening doors and other common courtesies, that is how they were raised.   Offer to pay for yourself and if they offer to pay for you, graciously accept the offer with a “Thank you”. Expect them to pay for themselves, at least.  If they “forget” their wallets or their card doesn’t go through, it just might be best to not go out with them again.

Yes, we all make mistakes but this is a major red flag early on in a relationship.  Even if they pay you back quickly, I’d say beware!

Second, avoid talk about your income or what you spend it on at first. If you are generous  and support the less fortunate under normal circumstances, wonderful. As the relationship grows, he will come to learn that naturally. This kind of talk is inappropriate on the first few dates and should be a big  red flag. It could be a test to see how much you have and how easily you can be parted from it.

Don’t buy them lavish gifts in the first year. There are a lot of thoughtful things you can do that don’t cost money, cards and notes, for example. You love to travel and want to see how it would be to go somewhere together for the weekend or longer? Then let it be his idea or bring up the idea without offering to pay. Let him offer to pay for himself or for the trip and you can always chip in. If it doesn’t happen, maybe it’s not meant to be.  You may have fallen head over heels, but beware that they may interpret your generosity as trying to buy their love and attention and, if  they perceive you are the least bit insecure, they may see you as an easy mark.  I am a person who loves to find things I think people I care for will love so I get how much of this might be your personality…but resist the temptation!

Don’t let your fears of being alone and dying an old maid make you settle for relationships that won’t make you happy in the long run. You have a rewarding career that pays well and have some assets, so remember you are “a good catch”.  There are men out looking for women to take care of them.  They prey upon women they view as vulnerable, lonely, and desperate enough to compromise their values.    They will test you out to see if you are kind and generous and understanding, consciously or subconsciously. Would it be so bad in the beginning of a relationship to let them think you’re not?

Finally, don’t sell yourself short!  Set your expectations and don’t settle for being treated badly!  It really is better to be alone than to spend years feeling scared and intimidated and not good enough, to end up financially strapped with a crappy credit score and no options of where to go in life.  There are wonderfully nice and healthy and responsible men out there.  Don’t give up until you find one.

Anger, not cruelty. We have gotten so confused about what is appropriate in relationships. What’s Assertiveness vs Aggression vs Passive Aggressive? We’ve been told we “have a right” to have our feelings, right? Or we may feel we don’t have a right to our feelings because it might hurt or upset someone else.

When we take the facts and interpret them in such a way that we get ourselves worked up into anger or hurt or sadness, we need to “own” the feelings. Our feelings are not the fault of someone else.

We have the right to tell people how we feel about what they said or did but we don’t have the right to be cruel. We don’t have the right to be mean and disrespectful just because of what someone else did or said.

We have to learn how to talk about our feelings without blaming someone else or trying to hurt them because we believe they hurt us.

It’s OK to be angry but not OK to be cruel.