Monday, July 16, 2012

The Question of Marrying Again After Divorce(s)

I was 51 the second time I got married. Now I'm 58 and divorced about 4 months after that nearly-7-year marriage ended amicably. Believe it or not, you can now get an uncontested divorce using paperwork downloaded from the Internet and without using lawyers. It can be completed in under 4 months for just a few hundred dollars. The state of Pennsylvania (where I live) makes it that easy to legally end a least one between older spouses with no child custody issues to address. And my first divorce was fairly effortless as well, completed in about 8 months, even though we had children ages 4 and 9 and had lawyers look over our final agreement. So, why have I not been absolutely sure I'd want to get married again? I'm a commitment-type person who truly believes in the kind of deep connection that marriage embodies and in being faithful to one special person. As a hopeless romantic, it warms my heart to see the beautiful bond that can grow and blossom over the years between spouses--something I'd really love to experience, since neither of my marriages was like that. And, as my own past has shown me, it's not that challenging or traumatizing to get a divorce if you handle it in an amicable way. So what am I really feeling? Well, I've been soul-searching about this question recently, and I've come to a conclusion: I think I'm having a knee-jerk reaction to those 2 experiences where the state told me what the standard "rules" were about dissolving a marriage even though every marriage and every couple is different. And there's a part of me that rebels against that. Yet, thinking back on it, I realize that my former spouses and I actually did navigate the divorce process in our own unique way, rather than the state's way. The first time, we wrote our own agreement without lawyers. The second time, we used no lawyers at all. So what issue am I really grappling with? I'm not entirely sure. But, lately, I'm wondering if my reluctance to embrace the idea of marriage has reflected not rebelliousness or the fear of another divorce...but a deeper fear of not trusting my own judgment in choosing a spouse...and then having to live through the heartbreak of another long-term committed relationship ending, where in the eyes of society, I'm again a "divorcee"--a role that makes me somewhat ashamed. Today, I notice that my heart and mind are asking: "What if I find a man who feels strongly about being married and, for various reasons, prefers that over living together?" Would I be open to marrying again? The answer I'm now leaning toward is "yes". After my first marriage, I was SURE I wanted to get married again to see if I could be smarter and more successful the second time around. I guess part of me felt like I'd failed, and I wanted to prove to myself I could "get it right". This time, it's not about that. It's about wanting to be SO sure I'm with the right person--a real "soul mate connection"--that I deeply feel we're already married in our hearts. That, I believe, would spur me to want to be married in the eyes of society too. My mom and her 3rd husband Bob are a good example of that type of marriage. They were both raised Catholic and are daily churchgoers who value the "sacrament" of marriage, and each was widowed twice. After his second wife died, Bob (who knew my mom over 40 years because he was a high school friend of her first husband--my dad--and also our family's dentist)asked my sister where my mom was living, and they started dating. Five months later, at ages 72 and 78, they were married. And they are one of the happiest couples I know. It's truly heart-warming to see them together. As I tell my dating coaching clients all the time, it can happen at any age, so never say never. Now, I'm feeling more ready to envision such a magical and wonderful partnership(and yes, marriage) for myself. I can even envision being married for the rest of my life (which, if I live into my late 80s, would be 30 years--almost twice as long as my first marriage!)How cool is that?! If you're divorced one or more times, I'd love to hear your take on this!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Still wondering if he's really into you?

You've probably heard about the 2004 book for single women He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys written by a man and woman who scripted the "Sex and the City" TV series. I highly recommend this book because it is a no-nonsense look at how to tell if a man is really interested in dating you and having a long-term relationship with you. Here are the "he's really into you" signs discussed in the book: 1) He asks you out on a date soon after meeting you. 2) He calls you frequently just to talk. 3) He wants to go out with you regularly and plans fun dates. 4) He can't keep his eyes and hands off you (likes to be affectionate). 5) He wants to have sex with you but only when you're ready. 6) He does not want to have sex with other people too. 7) He's emotionally available (not married or getting over a past relationship). What I know from coaching single women for the last 6 years is that they actually already know all these signs of a man who's really into them, but--more often than not--they wind up settling for or endlessly analyzing the confusing behavior of men who don't give them these signs. In other words, they spend too much time hoping men will show these signs or make excuses for them if they don't... rather than facing the fact it's time to move on and find other men who really ARE into them. Why do women do this? In my opinion, there are 4 major reasons: 1) They don't really believe they're pretty enough/good enough/fascinating enough to attract a fabulous guy who is truly interested in them as a person (it always amazes me how much self-doubt and low self-esteem many gorgeous, accomplished, fun-to-be-with women feel inside.) 2) They are socially "programmed" to want to please men, so they focus too much on being what guys want in a woman rather than figuring out and striving for what they want in a man. As a result, even though they all want to be "wooed" and treated as the special creatures they are, they don't expect (much less ask for) that because, deep down, they're not sure they deserve it and don't believe he'd provide it. 3) They are so impatient that they attempt to control the pre-dating process by making all the first moves (being too anxious or assertive), thus not allowing men to experience one of the most fun, rewarding parts of dating: winning a woman over. 4) They have an unfounded belief that "all the good ones are taken" and thus resign themselves to finding someone who's "good enough" rather than truly wonderful. In these cases, women will accept far less attention than they desire (and sometimes even poor treatment) because they're not sure they could find another man who wants to be with them. It's really sad to hear the women I coach having so little confidence in their ability to attract a really great guy who's totally mesmerized by them. Even sadder, when such a guy does come into their life, they find it hard to trust that he's sincere. They either don't feel worthy of his adoration/affection or they wonder if he's a "player." The wind up being overly cautious, even mistrusting, and relationships aren't allowed to unfold naturally as men attempt to get to know them better. If you're one of these women (or a man who's been disappointed in relationships with such women), let me know. I'd love to help. And please share your stories on this topic in return post. Happy dating!

Monday, May 7, 2012

What is "chemistry" anyways??

All of us in the dating world agree: if there is no "chemistry," there is no reason to pursue a particular dating prospect. If the "spark" isn't there, what's the point, right? Yes, I agree, there has to be some sort of attraction early on, but I've started to question lately whether it needs to be there on first sight or whether it can start as an ember and then turn into a flame as you get to know the person better. Let's first try to define what chemistry is. Is it a strong sexual attraction on the very first meeting? Is it a warm, fuzzy feeling that makes you feel comfortable and "at home" with the person the first time you talk? Is it an instant rapport that "just feels right"? Is it feeling natural and on the same wavelength with the person after just a few hours? Or...Is it an unmistakable "jolt" you get the second your eyes meet? I've heard people describe it all these ways. And, of course, it is felt differently by each different person. In my experience so far, chemistry has been there if I feel drawn to a man as we talk, getting a warm feeling when he shows me his sense of humor, sensitive inner self, or passion for life. Even if I'm not initially attracted by his overall appearance (for example, I am most attracted to short, slender dark-haired men), I have found myself captivated by a man who is playful/silly, self-deprecating, funny, insightful, or expressive--even if he's tall, blonde, or slightly overweight. Your body, of course, will tell you if there's chemistry between you. You'll feel those "butterflies in the stomach" just looking at him or her. Your heart will beat faster when your eyes meet. You'll feel a lump in your throat when he or she holds your gaze or smiles a certain way. You'll feel the aforementioned "jolt" of excitement down your spine when he or she walks in the room. Or your skin will tingle at the slightest touch. These are all signs of sexual attraction. But are they also indicators that there's a connection with the potential to go beyond the physical? I've recently had two experiences that make me wonder about this whole topic. The first was with a man whose physical looks weren't that appealing to me, but I liked many other things about him. So I accepted a 2nd and 3rd date to see if an attraction would grow. I told him I liked affectionate touch before kissing someone (which, in my opinion, is a very intimate thing), and he complied. He took things slow before our first kiss, and then it was that kiss that sparked a physical attraction in me. The second experience was with someone whose looks were more appealing but still not initially sparking any physical reaction in me. But, as I learned more about him and he revealed his intellect, emotional IQ, and playful sense of humor, I began to feel very warm toward him and could envision the attraction growing stronger. How about you? In your successful relationships, has the chemistry been there fairly strongly right from the start? Or have you had experiences where it grew gradually and then turned out to be really strong? I'd love to hear your input!

Saturday, March 31, 2012


If you're like me, you've probably had at least one experience in your dating life where a relationship didn't work out because the timing for one or both people wasn't good. In other words, you felt like you met the "right person at the wrong time." This happened to me in college. Though the guy I was dating was an excellent match for me in many ways and we had a really fun year and a half together, he wasn't ready to be exclusive and I was. And I had to reluctantly break it off when he decided he wanted to date other girls in addition to me. (I always wondered what might have happened had we met 5 or 10 years later after he'd "sowed his wild oats" but, oh well...)

I used to think it was simple...some relationships flounder just because of bad timing. But, after doing some soul searching, giving it a lot more thought, and having other similar experiences, I realize this:
You can't have a successful relationship unless BOTH people are emotionally available for one--meaning their hearts are healed from the past and totally open to potential love, they feel like they have what it takes to be a good partner for someone, and they have the time and energy available to be "present" in and to develop a serious relationship.

Also: their state of readiness for an emotional connection must be the same: they need to be ready, willing, and able to spend months getting to really know someone, doing all sorts of different things together, establishing a strong friendship, and then seeing if it blossoms naturally into a romance. (This, of course, assumes that both people also feel a physical attraction.)

What I now know is that someone can't be the "right person" if they're not ready for the same type of relationship that you are. The right person would be the one who's in the same place of readiness. Period. Even if two people are very compatible and have a deep connection on many levels, they are wrong for each other if one is ready and the other isn't.

It seems sad, doesn't it? That you can cross paths with someone who seems ideal for you but then have to let go and move on? I know it was really hard to get over that heartbreak at age 19. But, over the decades since, life has taught me that everything happens for a reason. And we're always in the place we're meant to be. So, even if you feel like he or she was the "one who got away"--the actual truth is: one door has to close so another one can open. We need to leave the past behind (taking the lessons that came from it with us), so we can create a brighter future.

Yes, sometimes "God works in mysterious ways." We don't know why these poorly timed relationships happen or how or when we'll meet the "right person at the right time." But we're not supposed to know. Experience has taught me (who used to be "control freak") that some things are out of our control--especially the miracle that is mutual attraction and readiness for love.

Here's the lesson I learned that I hope will help you in your love life:
If you have faith in a better tomorrow and the courage to carry on, you CAN move forward, trusting that life will unfold just the way it's meant to, in your best interest, and JUST at the perfect time! It's worked like that for me many times over the years, and I'm sure it can for you too! :-) WHAT DO YOU THINK??

Friday, February 17, 2012

Searching for dates? Get away from technology sometimes!

In over 6 years of coaching singles for more dating success, one thing has become glaringly clear to me: fewer people are willing to venture out to singles events, Meetup groups, and hobby activities in search of dates. They'd much rather focus most of their attention on using technology--whether it be online dating sites, Facebook, or texting--to connect with new people. Don't get me wrong--these can be great tools to find dates and stay in touch with folks. But, I find it troubling that these seem to have replaced in-person interaction. Here's why:

There's no substitute for face-to-face contact when it comes to learning about a new person. You can discover FAR more about someone by observing their nonverbal communication (facial expressions, tone of voice, and other body language) than you can from the words they say. Even the way your "date" treats the server in the coffee shop or restaurant where you have your first meeting can tell you a LOT more about his/her character and personality than an online dating profile ever could. Let's face it: some people are good at saying nice things in an email/text or on the phone (what they think the opposite sex wants to hear) but can't back that up with actions (ie, they don't "walk their talk") or they aren't really who they pretend to be.

And then there's the fact that you'll never know if you have physical chemistry with someone until you meet him/her in person. I found this out the hard way after a whirlwind weekend of emails and 4-hour phone calls with an online prospect who lived 3 hours from me. The banter and conversation was so stimulating and entertaining, I just had to meet him...and drove a long way to do so...only to find out the minute I saw him that there was absolutely no chemistry. He looked exactly like his online photo, but I just didn't feel the "spark"--even after spending a couple hours with him that day. You're either attracted or you're not.

Getting out of the house and mingling has another advantage too: nobody will know your age, so they can't pigeon-hole you based on that. I can't tell you how many of my Baby Boomer female clients are afraid to list their real age on their online profile because they assume men always seek younger women, so their profile will never pop up in a search guys their age will do. Since this is a legitimate concern, I advise them to get "out there" and be their fun, friendly self (since most of them look younger than they are anyways). Once somebody gets a taste of your personality and sense of humor and is compatible with you in terms of interests/hobbies and physical attraction, they're far less likely to worry about your age.

Maybe that's why a new online dating venue called "How About We...?" launched recently. It allows people to post a fun date idea and see who responds...thus cutting through the time it would have taken to email and phone call and getting right to the in-person meeting, to see if you have fun together and a physical attraction. I'll be curious to see how new users like this site and how many couples result from it.

In my opinion, it's sad that technology and "cyberdating" have created walls that sometimes reduce the time we spend in actual human interaction and connection. Sure, they have their place, but in the world of dating, they seem to me a detriment to getting a sense of the actual person you're considering spending time with.

How about you? Are you willing to mix it up and go out at least 2 or 3 times a month to meet people in spend as much time experiencing face-to-face connections as you are "virtual" connections? If you are, you'll maximize your chances of meeting more people and of forming deeper relationships. What do you think?