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5 Ways To Open the Communication

 

5 Ways To Open the Communication

 

Joey slammed the door behind him. Bang! This was the third argument in two weeks. What was happening? He and Julie had been dating for six months and things were glorious. They had clicked almost immediately. They had a lot in common and the chemistry they shared was off the charts. So, why couldn’t they work through these little arguments that begun to creep into their fairy tale relationship?

We all have them. Tough conversations with someone we love. The conversations where we have an internal battle between wanting to say the right things and wanting to be right, to win. Most of us know that to preserve a relationship, being right is the wrong paradigm; the kiss of death. So, what can you say when you find yourself retreating to your corner and pulling out your favorite words or phrases that signal to your loved one your superiority?

Dr. Brene Brown, professor, the author suggests the following questions or sentence starters:

  1. I’m curious about . . . If your SO has made a statement, accusation, or criticism instead of shutting down the conversation by responding with one of your favorite conversation-ending quips, try using this instead. Staying curious about your SO is the best way to learn more about them and deepen the relationship. It invites them to continue to be vulnerable with you.
  2. Tell me more . . . This sentence starter can help you get more of the story, understand their thinking, and even uncover underlying childhood baggage your SO may still be carrying around. The key to this is to listen without judgment. Resist the urge to correct what they may share with you. Look at it as an opportunity to learn more about how your SO views the world.
  3. Walk me through that . . . This phrase can help you gently investigate the thought process of your SO, especially if you truly do not understand how they arrived at their conclusion. Listen patiently and attentively as they explain to you how they reached their conclusions. Remember, their logic may not be the same as yours, so this may be an opportunity to build understanding and empathy.
  4. What’s your passion around this? This is an excellent question to use when your SO has proposed something to you that they’re excited about but you just don’t get it. Do they want to become a pickle ball champion? Are they determined to run 100 marathons? Do they want to change careers? Any of these revelations could be shocking to you, but give them the opportunity to share their passion with you. At this point, don’t try to discourage them by looking at logistics. Just watch their eyes light up as they share their enthusiasm with you.
  5. Tell me why this doesn’t fit/work for you. This can help you in a conversation when you are negotiating or compromising on anything. Often when couples disagree, they shut down the conversation by not investigating the underlying objections their partner has. The key to having this work is to listen to what they say and be compassionate.

Using these words and phrases can help you avoid those awful stalemates that end with you driving off in your car angry and cursing your SO. These sentence starters signal to your loved one that you value them as a partner and that you sincerely want to understand where they are coming from. You may not completely embrace their perspective, but if you truly care about that person, you owe it to them to empathize with their reality. Successful couples know that if approached correctly, disagreements are an opportunity to increase your intimacy and strengthen your bond. It helps you avoid building contempt which, according to Gottman, is the grim reaper of relationships. There is nothing more beautiful than to have someone look you in the eye, pull you close, and tell you that even though they disagree with you, they value and love you more than they love their ego. That, my friends, is how true love is built.

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6 Tips For Better Relationships The Dance of Dating

6 Tips For Better Relationships

The Dance of Dating

 

Dating is like going to a club to dance. As you approach the door, you hear the pulsating music float on the air, smell the mixture of cologne, perfume, and alcohol, and feel the heat rushing outside. As you enter the darkened room, you see dozens of potential dance partners. Everyone looks dazzling, but you have no idea if they are a saint or Satan underneath their shiny façade. It would be so much easier if everyone just wore a warning label that told the truth about themselves. The man leaning on the bar would have a label that said: “never texts back.” The woman dancing in the black mini-dress would have a label that said: “can’t hold down a job.” These kinds of labels would surely help the selection process, but since they don’t exist singles everywhere need to utilize the best dating tips available. Here is just a handful of some of the best dating tips I have found.

 

#1: Take a long car ride. Grab a drink and some snacks and invite the person you’re dating to take you on a long drive. They have to be the one behind the wheel. When people are out for a casual drive, they tend to relax. Their attention will be primarily on the road and secondarily on the conversation. This has the effect of catching them a bit off guard but in a comfortable environment so they will be open and honest with you. Plus, you are sitting side by side and that can be less intimidating for some people than sitting across from each other staring into each other’s eyes.

 

#2: Ask about their family. Let them ramble on for a while and eventually, they will say something sad. At that point, you can reach out and touch their arm and say, “that must be very hard for you.” This sympathetic response can help create a bond and encourage them to open up even more.

 

#3: Compliment people as often as possible. It’s especially important to tell the person you are dating why you like them. This general positivity is not only contagious, but it also helps keep your mood positive and will lift your spirits.

 

#4: Tell a vulnerable story. Be willing to share something close to your heart with the person you are dating. It can be something you are passionate about. It can be something that hurt you deeply. It can be something that taught you a mighty life lesson. The willingness to be vulnerable is attractive and will invite the person you’re dating to be vulnerable with you.

 

#5: If the person you are dating hasn’t responded to your last two texts, don’t text them again for any reason. Period.

 

#6: Read. Someone who reads is a more interesting person, in general than someone who doesn’t. Read books. Learn new things. People who read fiction and nonfiction are able to empathize better with others than those who do not read. Reading helps you to grow and change and become a new and better person than you were.

 

Remember that early on in a dating relationship, it should be all unicorns and roses and butterflies and magic. There shouldn’t be any drama. As time goes on, things will pop up and watching how the person you are dating deals with problems and conflict is an important part of determining if they are the right person for you. Everyone is flawed, but make sure that the flaws that are revealed to you as you date are ones that you can live with. If they aren’t, you need to end the relationship. There are many dancers in the metaphorical club and you don’t need to settle for just any dance partner. So, put on your best party dress and get ready to kick up your heels and dance.

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How To Spot Red Flags… 20 Signs To Look For

How To Spot Red Flags…

20 Signs To Look For

Recovering from a devastating break up is similar to a community recovering from a natural disaster. You do a lot of looking back and analyzing—trying to understand how you missed the signs and how you allowed yourself to be so unprepared for the imminent destruction that was headed your way. You are paralyzed with guilt for being so stupid and gullible. If only I had seen the red flags you yell at yourself! But upon further reflection, you are forced to acknowledge that you did see them. You saw ALL of them, but in the bliss and excitement, the lust and yearning for love your radar detector dims and you dismiss the signs. You are eager to forgive “little” mistakes because you want your partner to forgive you your foibles as well. However, over time the little mistakes begin to form a pattern of behavior and if you aren’t purposeful in how you approach a relationship, one of two things will happen: a catastrophic break up after you have lost your sense of self and any self-esteem you had OR you marry your partner and have a nightmare of a marriage that leads to a toxic divorce that leaves you breathless and quivering without a shred of dignity or self-respect.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? So, how can you avoid this disaster? You have to be purposeful. You have to make a commitment to step out of the fantasy, momentarily, and record your thoughts and impressions and identify red flags while your relationship develops. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but if you take some time to journal your relationship and track what is happening, you can see a pattern as it develops. Then you can use this information to create boundaries, make decisions, and end relationships if necessary.

The Gottman Institute recommends that you record each time your partner displays a red flag. You can draw them on a blank sheet of paper. Get out your red crayons and color in the boxes. Then, as you date, if your partner displays one of the red flags below, record the date and the details in one of the red flags on your sheet. Over time, you will be able to tell if there is a pattern or if they are just mistakes, which we all make. This is a powerful visual that can help you more clearly see what is happening in your relationship.

 

          Red Flags         

  1. Lack of communication skills.

  2. Irresponsible, immature, unpredictable behavior.

  3. Lack of trust.

  4. Your significant family and friends don’t like him/her.

  5. Controlling behaviors.

  6. You feel insecure in the relationship.

  7. They have a dark or secretive past.

  8. They have a history of not resolving past relationships.

  9. Abusive behavior of any kind.

  10. They push your physical boundaries.

  11. They tell you you’re perfect all of the time.

  12. The roll their eyes at you.

  13. They call all their exes crazy.

  14. They call you names during arguments.

  15. They have no work ethic.

  16. They are cruel or disrespectful to their parents.

  17. Their attitude or moods shift swiftly.

  18. They guilt trip you for everything.

  19. They make you feel stupid.

  20. The relationships is built on the need to feel needed.

 

Obviously, some of these are more severe than others, but they are ALL red flags. They ALL lead to toxic relationships. If you have a hard time being objective while you are being swept off your feet at the beginning of a relationship, consider using this visual activity to help you track your partner’s red flags. Use the information from the visual and trust your gut! Once you are sure there is a pattern, end the relationship immediately. April Mae Monterrosa said, “The red flags are usually there, you just have to keep your eyes open wider than your heart.” This strategy is one way to help you do that. Set yourself up for success in love and you will find it!

 

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A New Year. A New You. A New Dating Strategy.

NewDatingStrategy

 

If you’re like many singles, you’ve been dating for a while. You think you know what you want, so each time you get on a dating site you make sure to select all the correct criteria: gender (male), age (35-50), height (at least 5 feet 5 inches), activity level (moderate to completely active), children (open to having his children), blah, blah, blah. You hit enter and then the program spits out a list of potential soul mates for you to wander through. However, after months and months (and maybe even years) of using this same strategy, you’re still single. What if this strategy of using criteria to limit who you meet online has been wrong all along?

What if this year you try a different strategy? What if instead of focusing on superficial criteria, you leave things completely open? What would happen then? And, stay with me, what if you committed to conversing with and committing to having coffee or ice cream with every single person who reached out to connect with you? Of course, if you felt there was a safety issue you should definitely listen to your gut. However, barring any safety concerns make a commitment to dating outside your box!

Ann Marsh tried just that kind of experiment in 2003. She decided to go on 100 dates in six months. She did her due diligence and vetted the emails as they came in, but she decided to cast off her preconceived ideas of what she was looking for and date outside of her box. Here is an excerpt from her article:

“I got a lot of responses right off the bat. Some were ludicrous, like the 50-something guy in a Hawaiian shirt who offered to fly me to Vegas for the weekend. I deleted far more than I answered. But Week One still found me on dates with 14 men at local coffee shops. In Week Two, I slowed down to seven. I shook hands with a Danish architect and an hour later zoomed across town to meet a swoony soap opera actor. The next day was tea with an airfreight handler, followed that evening by a walk with a real estate lawyer. I dated aerospace engineers, entrepreneurs, doctors, an oceanographer, film animators, a romantic man who lived impecuniously on a boat, and a self-proclaimed gazillionaire who resided atop a mountain.”

So, what did Ann Marsh learn from this experiment? She learned honesty. She learned how important it was to be honest about if she was truly interested in someone after the first date, and she learned to appreciate that same honesty from someone (even if it hurt a little bit). She learned that men who sounded fascinating in their profiles were less than fascinating in person while others who weren’t quite sure how to “advertise” themselves were really amazing. She learned how to set healthy boundaries by having exit lines prepared when it was clear a date should not continue. She learned how to take rejection and roll with it.

She met so many fascinating people she would have never met had she checked too many restrictive boxes on her dating profile. And, would you believe it? She met her soul mate. The man of her dreams who, as chance would have it, would have been weeded out by her selection criteria.

So, if finding your soul mate is a goal for 2019 consider a new strategy this year. Try dating outside your box. You will meet a lot of amazing people. You will learn more about yourself. And, you might just find what you didn’t know you were looking for.

 

Ann Marsh. “What I Learned From Dating 100 Men.” February 2003 issue of the O magazine.

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An Open Letter to the Future Man Dating My Wife:

datingmywife

The day I died was the most devastating day my wife has ever experienced. The pain of my loss took her on a journey that tore her apart and left her gasping for air. Like the mythical phoenix, she emerged a stronger version of herself. She is now more beautiful, compassionate, and resilient.

It is likely that you feel strong pangs of jealousy over me. You might feel like you are in competition with me in many ways, but you are not. You need to remember that just because her love for me will never dim doesn’t mean her capacity to love you is limited. She has an infinite capacity to love you with her whole heart and soul the way she loved me. I can promise you that to be loved by her in that way is heaven. However, you have to allow her to do that by allowing her to continue to love me.

You may wonder how it is possible for her to love me with her whole heart and soul and to still have room to love you with her whole heart and soul. Well, let me tell you how. Remember when you had your first child? You held that sweet baby in your arms. You breathed in his sweet scent as you kissed his soft little forehead. Your heart was filled to overflowing as you stared into his eyes, and you thought: how could I ever love another human being as much as I love this little boy? Fast forward three years later and your daughter is born. You hold that sweet little bundle in your arms. She wraps her tiny little fingers around your thumb and a tear trickles down your cheek. You notice your heart swells with even more love. You know that you do not love your son less now that your daughter has been born. Your heart has grown to love both equally and uniquely.

That is the magic of the capacity of the human heart. It has an infinite capacity to love. So, as you date my wife please remember that she will need to be true to her feelings for me even as she develops a relationship with you. We are not in competition. I was her yesterday. You are her today and tomorrow.

Here are some things that will help her honor me and love you even more.

  1. Allow her to keep some of my things in a special place. Allow her to take those things out on birthdays, anniversaries, and other special times to honor the place I held in her life.
  2. Don’t force her to get rid of things I bought for her. Let her decide what to do with the wedding ring, special jewelry, and other items of importance. Remember that just because she holds onto these items doesn’t diminish the importance of the gifts you give her. She will cherish those because of the unique and loving relationship you will have with her.
  3. Give her space to grieve. Grieving is a process. She may need to be completely alone on the day anniversary of the day I died or the day of my funeral. She may need to celebrate my birthday with the children we had together. Don’t try to erase the memories we shared or the significant role I played in her life. Give her the time to remember me.
  4. Remember that dating a widow is different than dating someone with an ex-. We had a loving relationship that neither of us decided to end. You are dating the woman of my dreams, the love of my life. We had our good times and we had our bad times too. You do not need to feel like you are competing with a ghost. I cannot come back.
  5. Always share how you are feeling. Allow her to share how she is feeling. Make sure you make time for each other. Your relationship with her will be different than the relationship I had with her. That is the way it should be.

 

I know that at times it will be extremely challenging to love my wife. It is hard for anyone who is dating or married to a widow or widower. It comes with its own unique challenges. However, you also get the benefits of a spouse who knows how to love someone, how to build a life together, and how to endure unimaginable pain and come through it a new and stronger human being.

So, please be careful with my wife’s heart. It has already been through so much. She truly is an amazing woman. Any man who has the opportunity to love her is a truly blessed man.

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What Does Safe Dating Look Like?

SafeDatingtipsA few years ago, using an online dating service was considered shameful and people would often lie about how they met their significant other if they met each other online. Today, times are changing. Last year, meeting someone online was the most common way people met their spouse or spouse-to-be (19%). This was followed by being introduced by friends (17%), meeting someone in college (15%), and then work place romances (12%). While you should always exercise safe dating practices, when you meet someone online you have an increased risk, so you should be extra cautious.

What does that look like? First, make sure you use a reputable dating service. Dating Safe is revolutionary in how we approach dating safety. We go over and beyond other dating services to vet and verify all of our members. No other dating service does that. However, even with all of the safeguards we use, we encourage our members, and everyone else for that matter, to follow these great tips as they look for their soul mate.

  1. When it comes to your online profile, limit the amount of personal information you give out. Particularly, pay attention to the pictures you post. Do they reveal where you work, live, or play frequently? Does it show your license plate or your jogging path? This kind of information should be kept private until you determine you can trust the person you are interested in. That should be several in-person dates down the road. There is a delicate balance to be reached between getting to know someone and revealing too much private information. You can talk about work, but you can keep the location private until you feel safe with that person.
  2. Do a little online sleuthing. Do a Google search on their name. Do a reverse Google image search on their pictures. If you find them on Facebook, see if you have any friends in common and message your friends to get information on them.
  3. Consider using a Google phone number and have it forwarded to your phone. This is free by using Google Voice. This is an easy way to avoid giving your personal number to someone before you are ready to give that to them. You can also use your online dating service messaging to communicate until you are ready to reveal your phone number.
  4. While it is tempting to text to set up the first date, psychologists highlight suggest you talk to someone on the phone. There are things you can only learn from talking to someone and your instincts will respond more clearly from hearing their voice than just reading some words on a screen.
  5. If the person you are talking to online starts to ask for money, this is a huge red flag. Do not fall for their sob story. Never send money. Usually the request for money is preceded or followed by passionate professions of love. Don’t fall for it. Delete the person. Block them.

Once you’ve decided to have a first date, there are some things you should do. These are essential when meeting anyone new for the first time even if your best friend has set you up and given you her full endorsement.

  1. Tell someone where you will be, who you are meeting, and how long you will be gone.
  2. Drive yourself there.
  3. Go somewhere public.
  4. Keep it brief. Meet for coffee or lunch. Grab a drink after work. If you are drinking alcohol, limit your intake so you can stay alert and aware.
  5. Consider carrying a self-defense tool and some emergency cash.
  6. Trust your instincts.
  7. Have your “gotta go excuse” ready to go in case the date is going poorly or your instincts tell you something is wrong. This can be coordinated with your check-in buddy.
  8. Go home alone.

Overall, whenever you are on a date, it is imperative to respect time, space, and privacy. While asking questions to get to know someone better is a natural technique for conversation, you need to be careful to respect boundaries. Someone may not be ready to divulge where they take yoga classes if they are protecting their privacy. So, instead of asking: where is your yoga studio?  Ask them: what do you love about yoga? You will learn more about your date by asking the second question and respect his/her need for privacy.

While online dating has its challenges, it is definitely worth it. The good news is, research is showing that marriages that result from online dating are happening quicker and are less likely to end the first year. Couples who met online are also reporting more marital satisfaction.  So, what’s stopping you? Get on DatingSafe.com and get your profile ready to go. We do a big chunk of the work for you by vetting and verifying our members so you get real people looking for real relationships. Then use the tips above and you are on your way to find the love of your life!

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Ghost of Dating Advice Past

RetroDatingAdvice2

The holiday season is upon us and so is the season of self-loathing. The time when singles around the globe feel their “single-hood” in such a poignant and powerful way that the urge to run and hide is tangible. Watching happy couples and “complete” families celebrate the holidays is a painful reminder of what they do not have but desperately want. Often your friends and family begin to toss out advice in rapid-fire form to help you hook up for the holidays. Unfortunately, most of what they tell you is as useless as handing you a hammer when you are trying to fix a broken vase.

Because of advances in technology and communication, there are literally dozens of ways that singles can meet other singles today. However, dating advice hasn’t kept up the same frenzied pace. It’s as if the ghost of dating past is still haunting us today. Read the following list of dating advice that was published in McCall’s in 1958 and see if any of these old tired pieces of advice have been given to you recently.

 

HOW TO GET A HUSBAND

  1. Get a dog and walk it.
  2. Have your car break down in strategic places.
  3. Attend night school. Take courses men like.
  4. Read the obituaries to find eligible widowers.
  5. Sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons.
  6. Get a job in a medical, dental, or law school.
  7. Ask your friends’ husbands who the eligible men are in their offices.
  8. Be nice to everybody—they may have an eligible brother or son.
  9. Volunteer for jury duty.
  10. Be friendly to ugly men—handsome is as handsome does.
  11. Get lost at football games.
  12. Don’t take a job in a company run largely by women.
  13. Go to all reunions of your high school or college class. There may be widowers there.
  14. Don’t be afraid to associate with girls that are more attractive; they may have leftovers.
  15. Go back to your hometown for a visit. The wild kid next door may have become a very eligible bachelor while you were away.
  16. Don’t room with a girl who is a sad sack and let her pull you down to her level.
  17. Learn to paint. Set up your easel outside an engineering school.

HOW TO LET HIM KNOW YOU’RE THERE

  1. Stumble when you walk into a room that he’s in.
  2. Carry a hatbox.
  3. Wear a Band-Aid. People always ask what happened.
  4. Make a lot of money.
  5. Walk up to him and tell him you need some advice.
  6. Dropping the handkerchief still works.
  7. Stand in a corner and cry softly. Chances are good that he’ll come over and find out what’s wrong.
  8. Buy a convertible. Men like to ride in them.
  9. Learn how to bake tasty apple pies. Bring one in to the office and let the eligible bachelors taste it.
  10. If there’s a wallflower among the men you know, why not cultivate him? For all you know, he may be a diamond in the rough.
  11. “Accidentally” have your purse fly open, scattering its contents all over the street.

HOW TO LOOK GOOD TO HIM

  1. Get better-looking glasses. Men still make passes at girls who wear glasses. Or try contact lenses.
  2. Practice your drinking with your women friends first.
  3. If you dye your hair, pick a shade and stick to it.
  4. Wear high heels most of the time—they’re sexier.
  5. Tell him he’s handsome.
  6. Take good care of your health. Men don’t like girls who are ill.
  7. If you look good in sweaters, wear one on every third date.
  8. Get a sunburn.
  9. When you are with him, order your steak rare.
  10. Don’t tell him about your allergies.
  11. European women use their eyes to good advantage. Practice in front of a mirror.
  12. Use the ashtray; don’t crush out cigarettes in coffee cups!
  13. Don’t be too fussy.
  14. Don’t whine—girls who whine stay on the vine!

HOW TO LAND HIM

  1. Show him you can have fun on a cheap date—but don’t overdo it.
  2. Don’t let your parents treat him like a potential husband.
  3. Tell his friends nice things about him.
  4. Send his mother a birthday card.
  5. Ask his mother for recipes.
  6. Talk to his father about business and agree that taxes are too high.
  7. Buy his sister’s children an occasional present.
  8. Don’t talk about how many children you want.
  9. If he’s a fisherman, learn to scale and clean fish.
  10. When you’re out strolling with him, don’t insist on stopping at every shop window.
  11. Don’t tell him how much your clothes cost.
  12. Don’t gossip about him.
  13. Never let him know he’s the only one, even if you have to stay home one or two nights a week.
  14. Find out about the girls he hasn’t married. Don’t repeat the mistakes they made.
  15. If you are widowed or divorced, don’t constantly discuss your former husband.
  16. Be flexible. If he decides to skip the dance and go rowing on the lake . . . go! Even if you are wearing your best evening gown.
  17. Hide your Phi Beta Kappa key if you own one—later on junior can play with it.
  18. Turn wolves into husband material by assuming they have honor.
  19. Resist the urge to make him over—before marriage, that is!
  20. Remain innocent but not ignorant.
  21. Learn to play poker.
  22. If he’s rich, tell him you like his money—the honesty will intrigue him.
  23. Never let him believe your career is more important to you than marriage.
  24. Point out to him that the death rate of single men is twice that of married men.

WILD IDEAS—ANYTHING GOES

  1. Go to Yale.
  2. Get a hunting license.
  3. If your mother is fat, tell him you take after your father. If he’s fat too, tell him you’re adopted.
  4. Stow away on a battleship.
  5. Rent a billboard and post your picture and telephone number on it.

While some of these ideas are outright dangerous, most of the others are just plain insulting. They focus on changing yourself into something you are not instead of focusing on becoming your best self. That is what you need to do. Become your best self. Then trust the process. Dating is a lot of trial and error. You will get bumps and bruises along the way. You will most likely even get a broken heart or two. However, the last thing you want to do is change yourself into something you are not to try and “catch” a spouse. The love of your life WILL love you for who you are. So, while you are being patient with the process, spend time loving yourself. And when your friends or family offer a less than helpful piece of dating advice, put on a big smile and laugh it off.

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3 Tips For Dating Single Moms

 

3 Tips For Dating Single Moms

With around 15.4 single mothers in the United States, there is a good chance that you may end up dating one, especially if you are dating in your 30s, 40s, and 50s.  While some men may shy away from dating a woman with children, they are overlooking some specific benefits.

  1. First, single mothers are practical. They do not sweat the small stuff. While they appreciate being wined and dined, they are also just as happy with a fun picnic at the park. They appreciate the small and simple things in life. They know that even the best laid out plan can go swiftly sideways and they have learned to laugh at these spontaneous disasters. They will not hold things against you if your plans do not work out the way you intended. They will not see it as a flaw in your character or as a failure on your part. They will be able to laugh it off with you the way they have laughed off dozens of other such occasions with their own children.
  2. Second, her history has taught her what it takes to be a good partner, and she is ready to apply all that knowledge to her next relationship. Additionally, she is fine-tuning her nurturing skills as she cares for her children. She knows how to sacrifice and put others first. She intuitively knows how to anticipate the needs of others and she will do the same for you. There is something beautiful in how a mother balances the demands of each of her children with the demands of running a household and, often, working full time.
  3. Finally, if she falls for you, it is the real deal. She has learned to be guarded and reserved with her emotions, so if she gives her heart to you, you can be sure that it was not just on a whim. Rest assured she has weighed all the pros and cons about you and tried to talk herself out of falling for you several times before she allowed herself to open her heart. However, once she does, she is all in. She will give you all of her love, attention, and support.

If you have the wonderful opportunity to date a single mother, you should never say several things to her if you want to have a second (or third or fourth) date.

  • You look great . . .  for a mom.
  • The kids need a man in the house.
  • You had a C-section. That is awesome!
  • You don’t even have stretch marks.
  • Your ex lives in the neighborhood? Is his place near here? Do you ever run into him? Does he hate that you date?
  • Did you get your tubes tied?
  • How much child support do you get?
  • When guys marry single moms and their daughters grow into teenagers, I don’t know how they can control themselves.
  • My ex has a lot of issues so I really want to get married so my daughter has a new mom.
  • Not a lot of guys are interested in women with kids, you know.

All of these are showstoppers. She will block your number and you will never see her again.

So, what can you do to set yourself up for success? Do not assume that just because she has her kids she’s not available. If she’s interested in you, she will be willing to get a babysitter. Make sure you keep that in mind when asking her out so she has plenty of time to make those kinds of arrangements. In addition, because she has the expense of paying for the babysitter, it would be nice if you paid for at least part of the date. It is a nice gesture. Let her know that you love kids. If you have your own, talk about them. If you don’t, talk about your nieces and nephews or other children you have relationships with. She will want to know how you interact with kids. Don’t assume she is looking for a financial rescue or that she’s looking for a new dad for her children. What she is looking for is a new romantic partner. First and foremost, focus on that relationship. When she is ready, let her decide when to introduce you to her children. It is unwise for any single parent to parade a bunch of potential partners through their children’s lives. Timing is everything. So, do not pressure her into meeting her children before she feels ready.

So, why not give those hot single mommas a whirl? Don’t dismiss what they have to offer just because it may seem on the surface to be a bit more complicated than dating a single woman without children. You may miss the relationship of your dreams.

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Profile Picture Perfection is Possible!

ProfilePicCollageYou’re ready. The idea of dating no longer causes you to break out into a cold sweat and head for the bathroom with stomach pains. You feel confident, secure, and stable. You want to increase your chances of meeting someone you can share your life with, so you decide to leverage the power of online dating. Last year, 46% of people met their current partner online. You take a deep breath, grab your laptop, curl up in your favorite chair, and begin to carefully craft your online dating profile.

You struggle through draft after draft of usernames and clever headlines. With 59 million users, it’s an enormous challenge to find something that is unique and hasn’t been overdone. After what seems like days, you feel like you have climbed Mt. Everest, and you have just one step left . . . pictures. This is perhaps the most daunting aspect of creating an online dating profile. Research has shown that people will form an opinion of you in 1/10 of a second. That’s it! That’s all you get before someone decides to like your picture, send you a message, or move on to another profile. Talk about pressure! It’s almost enough to make anyone climb back into their pajamas, grab a quart of Ben and Jerry’s, and decide to try online dating next year.

However, there are things you can do to maximize that 1/10 of a second you have. Dozens of research studies have been conducted in the last five years to uncover what men and women like and don’t like when it comes to online dating pictures. There are some clear guidelines that will help you choose the best possible pictures for your profile. Here is what you can glean from the research:

  1. No hats or sunglasses. People who had pictures of them wearing hats or sunglasses received 63% less likes or messages. Why? Eyes are one of the first things people notice about another person. Making eye contact with someone, even through a picture, seems more intimate than looking at someone’s sunglasses. In fact, 53% of men notice a woman’s eyes first in a picture. Don’t cover up those assets, show them off. What about hats? Caps and beanies can be fun and appropriate for hiking and vacationing, but often people wear them to cover up flaws. Unless you wear that hat or beanie all day, every day make sure to have a picture without it. If you’re bald or have a receding hairline, own it!
  2. Include at least one full body picture. People who had at least one on their profile got 203% more incoming messages and 33% more replies to their messages. Why is this? It has to do with transparency. Being physically attracted to someone is an important factor in dating. While it is important to put your best foot forward, it’s also important to put ALL of you forward as well.
  3. Have a niche? Include it in a picture but only if you have more than one picture. People who wore their favorite sports jersey received 32% more incoming messages than other profiles. Additionally, people who included pictures of themselves on vacation, participating in hobbies, and competing in sports received more messages than other profiles. However, this was only true if it was in addition to other pictures. This is because these are great conversation starters, but if it is the only picture on your profile, it can alienate potential partners who may be interested in you but might not share your interests.
  4. Taking a good selfie is incredibly difficult. Getting the angle right, cropping out background images, and adjusting glare are all nightmares. As it turns out, selfies are also not that effective as online dating profile pictures. In fact, for women it is a deterrent to getting messages. Women with selfies received 40% less messages than profiles without selfies. Ironically, men catch a break here but not a big one. They receive 11% more messages if they have a selfie profile picture. For both genders, though, mirror selfies are a no-no. Mirror selfie profile pictures receive fewer likes and messages across the board. The solution is to grab your best friend and have her take some pictures or get some professionally done.
  5. Filters and photoshop. You might not think so, but it is obvious if you have used a filter or photoshop on your picture. People who have profile pictures that have been edited with filters receive fewer likes and messages by 32%. This is especially true for Snap Chat filters. The only exception is the black and white filters. These pictures get 13% more messages.
  6. Expensive toys. This seems to be a common profile picture for men. Maybe she’ll send me a message if I pose with my amazing car or motorcycle? Maybe I’ll just post a picture of my car or motorcycle and she’ll be so impressed she won’t care that I’m not in the picture. Men, this is a huge turn-off for women. In fact, men who posted pictures of themselves with their toys or just their toys received far fewer likes and messages than other profiles. Save the reveal of your nice car or motorcycle for a first or second date when she can appreciate it in person.
  7. Where’s Waldo? Group photos are a nightmare for dating profiles. If you have a great picture of yourself in a small group, then include it at the end of a series of photos of you. Never have a group photo be your only profile picture. It is never obvious to anyone looking at your profile who you are in that picture.
  8. No ex’s or SOs in your picture. Never. Period.
  9. Everything matters. When someone looks at your pictures, they may notice your amazing smile and beautiful eyes, but they will also notice the dirty clothes on your bed or the hungry kids pulling at your leg. Make sure that everything in the photo tells the story you want it to because it will be judged.
  10. If your profile picture hasn’t changed but you have, it’s time for a new picture. If you recently cut off nine inches of your hair, time for a new picture. If you shaved your head, time for a new picture. If your beard has become speckled with gray hair, time for a new picture. A good rule of thumb is to update your picture every year unless you make changes to your appearance sooner than that. It’s about integrity. It’s about being authentic and confident in who you are now.

Now you know a lot of what not to do, so what CAN you do to be proactive and successful with your photo selection? Here is what we know from hundreds of thousands of singles who responded to research studies. Singles are looking for someone who fits the trifecta: attractive, trustworthy, and confident. Each photo you choose to put on your profile should reveal these three items. In order to nail this trifecta, you should enlist the help of friends. It turns out you are not the best judge of your own photos. If none of your existing pictures fit this description, take some. It is perfectly acceptable to stage moments that capture your fun personality, your hobbies, and the things you are passionate about. You want the pictures you include to tell a story. You want them to start a conversation with someone and invite them to message you to know more about you. Most of all, you want to be authentic and transparent.

As you take pictures for your profile, keep several things in mind. People respond warmly to pictures where the person is smiling, where there is good lighting, and where the person is taking up most of the room in the picture. A recent analysis done by Tinder discovered that 56% of women and 72% of men wore neutral colors in their profile pictures. So, skip the neutral and wear red. Not only is it a power color that flatters almost everyone, you will automatically stand out from the majority of other profile pictures.

You should always include more than one picture on your profile. The magic number is four. Research has even shown the most effective sequence for them. Order them: (1) your very best, most attractive picture (2) picture of you participating in a hobby or event (3) possibly a small group photo or travel or vacation photo (4) full body photo. People with less than four photos receive fewer messages. Those with more do not necessarily receive more messages, so it’s up to you how many you want to put on there. One cautionary note, be careful if you choose to include pictures with your children in them. While you may want to show what a cute and adoring parent you are, you may want to keep that for a later time when you have met the person face to face and have developed a relationship of trust with them.

So, put down the Ben and Jerry’s, take a deep breath, and peruse the pictures in your phone. If there’s nothing there that matches the criteria for a perfect profile pic, then grab your bestie and have a fun impromptu photo shoot. Remember, it only takes one like, one message to change your life. So, if it takes a while to get the right kind of response to your profile, that’s ok. You are worth it!