Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yes! Women CAN initiate the online dating process!

"Is it OK for me to be the initiator in online dating?" a woman client asked me recently. My response: "Absolutely! That's what I always recommend." And here's why.

I never would have met any of the men I've been with over the last 11 years (including the wonderful man I'm dating now) if I hadn't started the conversation on an Internet dating website. Sure, I had hundreds of men of various types express an interest in me online, but the only way I dated guys who were MY type was to find them myself and make their acquaintance by dropping them a note. 

A majority of the men who emailed me didn't feel compatible enough. So, it seemed that the smarter approach would be choose matches myself, reach out, and then see if any of the guys I liked also liked me. In the end, that approach worked!

There are 3 main reasons why it's fine for a woman to "make the first move" in the cyberdating world:
1)  Sending an initial email is just like making eye contact with/smiling at a man you're interested in at a singles event in "the real world." It's simply a way of "flirting" to show him it's OK to take the next step and come over and talk to you. After that, he'll pick up the ball and ask you out if he's interested. The woman may have gotten things rolling in the online world, but from there it becomes like traditional dating with the man making the next overtures. 

So if you're afraid men will think you're aggressive or "pursuing" them, fear not! Your flirty email online is just a tool to make a first contact. It doesn't change the age-old "man pursuing woman" dynamic.

2) Men love it when you show an interest in them. They're very flattered to get your complimentary note because it's not very common for women to approach them first, and it feels good to know someone is impressed by them. It takes away both the pressure of always being the initiator as well as the fear of rejection men have had to deal with all their lives. Having a woman approach them first is refreshing and ego boosting.

3) The rules of dating have changed. In 2015, the dating world is a LOT different than it was before was founded 20 years ago. With dating websites offering us millions of single people to choose from, both men and women are now used to having the opportunity to, in effect, "shop" for dates and then contact them "virtually." Men post their pictures and profiles to attract women's attention, so why shouldn't women respond by telling them they succeeded in attracting them?

I haven't had a single male client who didn't enjoy getting an initial email from a woman who was interested in learning more about him. So go ahead, through those profiles and find some guys who excite you. Then, write a short note telling them what grabbed you most and what the two of you have in common. 

By doing that, you're not crossing some invisible dating etiquette line. You've just broken the ice and hopefully paved the way for a getting-to-know-you phone call and meeting for coffee. Then, who knows?! He may click with you enough to ask you out on a real date...and the two of you can take it from there! Happy Dating!! :-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

If You Have a High EQ, Relationships Will Be Easier

In 1995--20 years ago already--Daniel Goldman's book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ was published. It's a fascinating look at how being aware of and able to manage our emotions (while also being sensitive to others' emotions) can help us in life and relationships (both professional and personal).

I've been re-reading the book recently and find that it makes a lot of points that are helpful for people in the dating world:
 - People with a high EQ are more satisfied, better with people & more optimistic
 - Those with a high EQ are cool, confident & see themselves as worthy
 - High-EQ people are self-reliant & dependable as well as happier & healthier than others

Imagine how much easier a relationship with a partner who has qualities like these would be!

Research also shows that someone with a high EQ is better able to resolve conflict because he/she:
 - is good at handling & defusing negative emotions
 - is able to control his/her anger & so remains calm & tries to reason with the other person
 - takes the time to understand what he/she is feeling & works with it
 - is less likely to freeze, go to pieces, or regress under stress/doesn't crack under pressure
 - takes full responsibility for his/her feelings & doesn't blame the other person for them
 - embraces challenges & acts fast to solve problems
 - is very empathetic & able to see things through others' eyes

Imagine too how skills like these would make it easier to discuss and overcome relationship problems more quickly and with less drama!

I know that, in my relationships over the years, dating/relating with someone who was in touch with and able to express his emotions and also validate/empathize with mine helped us communicate better, fostering the understanding and compassion that helped us reduce or even prevent arguments...making things flow much more smoothly. But, sadly, finding people with a high EQ isn't easy (which is why I feel blessed to be dating someone now who does have this very desirable quality!)

If you want to be in such a relationship, there's good news: a person CAN raise his/her EQ! Here are 3 ways to do it, according to psychologists:
1) Increase your self-awareness of both your strengths & your weaknesses. Limitations aren't viewed as shortcomings for someone with high emotional intelligence, so he/she strives to gain knowledge & insight into these and to see them as opportunities for self-growth and reaching outside his/her comfort zone to become a better person. I know that both I and the man I'm dating have done a lot of personal growth work over the years, which is a huge help for increasing self-awareness.
2) Practice acknowledging & managing your emotions. Rather than being reactive, try to be proactive about monitoring what you feel and keeping negative emotions in check. You can do this by listening to and recognizing others' feelings, even when you disagree with them. Step back to process whatever comes up in an appropriate way. This doesn't mean denying you have anger, fear, shame or other negative feelings; it just means learning how and when to express them in a nonvolatile, nonjudgmental manner.
3) Demonstrate an authentic & genuine interest in other people. Make it a point to learn about what's important to the other person, so you can understand and care about what he/she cares about. True caring, of course, facilitates authentic feelings of friendship, trust, and respect that make it easier to talk things through...and which can, in time, lead to romance and long-term commitment.

Curious about your own EQ? Take this short quiz:
  • Can you clearly express your feelings with the 3-word sentence "I feel..."?
  • Can you differentiate various feelings?
  • Can you identify why you feel the way you do?
  • Do you respect and accept yourself the way you are?
  • Do others know you have a good sense of yourself?
  • Are you living up to your potential?
  • Do you feel satisfied with your accomplishments?
  • Are you able to let go of regrets and grudges?
  • Do you feel in control and consistent in the way you act?
  • Are you emotionally independent from others?
Emotionally smart people will answer "yes" to 8 to 10 of these questions. How did you do?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Are You Being REAL in the Dating World?

I'm reading a book now called The Velveteen Principles: A Guide to Becoming Real (Hidden wisdom from a children's classic) and it's based on the story of the toy Velveteen Rabbit who became real, with human emotions, when he gave love to and received love from a little boy. This book discusses the difference between superficial outer beauty and the inner beauty we all possess as unique human beings.

The Velveteen Principles guides us to rise above society's "Object culture" (based on what we own and accomplish) and to focus instead on the inner qualities that make us unique, happy, and lovable (our character, kindness, honesty, integrity, and empathy), which deepen our connections with others and make more joy and love possible in our lives.

This has gotten me thinking about what happens when we show up as our "Real" selves in dating and relationships...and, concurrently, when we're able to look beneath the surface of a dating prospect's looks, job, wealth, status, etc. to see their Real true self inside. In other words, what happens when we take the time to look into a person's heart and soul rather than making snap judgments based on what we see on the outside?

In my view, showing our "Real" selves means being authentic, open, present, engaged, and even vulnerable as others get to know us. It means letting our good qualities (generosity, empathy, kindness, and gratitude) as well as our not-so-good qualities (fear, envy, anger, sadness, shame) be seen by others. It requires frankness and transparency in getting-to-know-you conversations about our lives and our inner workings. And, when both people let these qualities be seen, they've laid the foundation for true emotional intimacy.

When we let our own Real qualities show, we're more likely to feel comfortable with and attracted to other people who are "Real". Then, watch the sparks fly, because there's no better feeling than the depth of connection (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical) that is possible when both people are being Real and sharing their thoughts and feelings honestly.

It takes courage to share the deeper parts of ourselves, and it takes acceptance without judgment to listen when others share these parts with us. But the result when we each do that is amazing. We become kindred spirits, fellow travelers on the journey to a richer sense of self and a deeper type of happiness.

The Velveteen Principles says that going along with the "objectification" of our object-obsessed culture destroys empathy for ourselves and what is Real in others. When we stop trying to conform/be like everyone else but instead let go of the fear of being different and just be ourselves, we become "Real" instead of generic. We have more fulfilling relationships, less fear of failure, and a chance of breaking through to new heart-opening relationship experiences.

How willing are you to be "Real" when you meet new people? Do you fear that others, if they saw inside you, wouldn't want to be with you? The truth is that we all have flaws, so seeing those in others can endear you to them by bonding you through your common humanity. When we hide them, however, we're relating on only a superficial level and thus reducing the chance we'll experience the deep partner bond we crave.

What do you say? Isn't it about time we all agreed to try to "get Real"? Just imagine how our relationships and our world will benefit!! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How do I know if I can trust a person I just met?

This is the question I received recently at a dating seminar I was presenting. And it's a very good question. The woman who asked it was referring specifically to online dating prospects...since she'd heard and been frightened by stories about people who lie about themselves online.

Whether you meet a new person through the Internet or in person, the same general rule of thumb about assessing someone's trustworthiness applies: listen to your gut instincts. If something feels suspicious or someone is evasive, be cautious. If your intuition tells you someone is hiding information, ask more questions and gather more facts before believing what he says. Your intuition will never steer you wrong.

In addition: make note of his or her body language. There are several micro-expressions and body movements that tell you someone is being evasive or dishonest. More info is here:

As we all know, trust in any kind of relationship--personal or professional--takes time to build. People earn your trust little by little by proving true to their doing what they say they're going to being open and honest and willing to talk about anything that comes up during the getting-to-know-you process.

The woman who asked the question about trusting new men was hesitant because she'd been betrayed by a man in the past. She now found it difficult to imagine opening her heart enough to give others the benefit of the doubt--to see them as "innocent until proven guilty." This, of course, can be a huge obstacle in the dating world. When people feel you don't trust them, it is hard to form a connection that might lead to a friendship, romance, and/or love.

Here are some ways to tell if someone is trustworthy early in the dating process:
1. He or she shows up to your first meeting or date on time.
2. He or she calls on the promised day and time.
3. He or she prefers to communicate with you face to face rather than through email, texting, or phone calls. (Body language, of course, is a huge help in reading a person's intentions and sincerity, so anyone afraid of being caught in a lie would rather not spend much time in person with you.)
4. He or she will offer to do things for you and will follow through, so you'll learn that you can count on him or her being reliable.
5. He or she will keep any promises made. Small actions matter toward helping to build a strong foundation of trust.
6. He or she will keep private things you've shared completely confidential.
7. When you share personal information and your history, he or she will be comfortable offering to share similar information. 
8. He or she will offer a sincere, from-the-heart apology if he or she disappoints you or makes a mistake. He or she will take full responsibility for his or her action and reassure you that he or she understands how those actions impacted you.
9. Your friends or relatives who've met your new date will give you positive feedback about him or her. Often, the first blush of a new relationship blinds us to negative things that other objective observers can clearly see. Pay attention to their reactions!
10. He or she will be open to new experiences that you suggest. This builds a bond between you, and trust will follow. 

Armed with this information, it will be easier for you to venture forth into the dating world feeling more comfortable AND sending out more open, positive vibrations that draw nice people to you. Being overly cautious can definitely be a turnoff, but being reckless or gullible is unwise.

I'd love to hear your opinions and/or stories about trust. Drop me a note!