Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Internet Dating Tips

I received a call today from a prospective love coaching client. She was looking to pursue internet dating for the first time, and she had a lot of trepidation. She was concerned about getting started and how to do it smartly and effectively.

We had a long discussion, and I offered her a number of tips. And, they hold true, even if you've been using the web for some time as a dating tool. I have also worked with singles who have been on and other sites for a good period, and sometimes they say it's not working for them, and they don't know why. I have known others who have had success.

Consider the following.

*Post a great photo of yourself. Invest in hiring a photographer, if need be. It's worth it. And, you can find services on the web that specialize in internet dating photos. Your photo is your first impression, and the web is a numbers game since so many are pursuing it. You want yours to stand out as much as possible, and capture the essence of you. I have seen many post photos they've had laying in their nightstand drawer because it was easy. One of my clients posted a photo of herself wearing sunglasses, and you couldn't see her face. Another wore a tuxedo, which made him look dapper, but very stiff, yet he had a good sense of humor and was fun-loving. That did not come across. Another posted a shot with part of the arm of someone else he had been standing next to and cropped from the photo. These don't work. You can do better.

*When writing about yourself, don't just post the facts. So many I work with want to get it over with, so they write as if they are extracting info. from their resume. This is a bore. You want to attract someone. You want them to want more. And you want them to want to meet you. So, what can you do? Write with personality and colour. Ask your friends how they would describe you? What do they think would attract someone to you? It can be hard to write about yourself. You're too close to the subject. Be specific. What are some of your interests? Do you like movies? Name your favorite movie. Do you enjoy travel? What is your favorite vacation spot? The last thing you want is to sound generic. Give someone a "hook" to write to you about. You want what you describe to resonate with them, and make a connection. Back in my single days, I placed a personal ad, and I began it by writing "pretty pizza lover....." I thought it was cute, and original, and might get a chuckle. It did lead to some fun responses, and broke the ice conversation-wise, because we began by discussing our favorite pizza places. So, don't be afraid to be playful and clever.

*Don't exchange in an overly lengthy email exchange. Two of my clients had the experience of doing that, and it didn't turn out well in either case. In both instances, they conversed a lot on the computer. Long, detailed notes were exchanged, particularly after hours, when they were feeling somewhat vulnerable and alone. Things were shared. It became personal. All before they met. Way too premature. When they finally did connect in person, the dates proved disappointing. They had set themselves up for potential failure because there was so much expectation. They had built up their hopes too soon. This is understandable, but it might have been avoided. Don't be tempted to put a lot of stock in email. Best to keep your notes brief and to the point, and make a date. There is something to be said for a little intrigue, and email can easily be misinterpreted. It's also common to share a lot in email because the words sometimes pour out, especially if you're a fast typist. But, this isn't the best way to get to know someone. It's a start....but you need to come face-to-face.

*When you do make the date, meet in a public place. Get yourself there and back. Have ample money on hand to pay your own expenses. don't know this person, no matter how many emails you've written to each other.

In general, I am a fan of internet dating. It think it's an option worth exploring when you are seeking a mensch, but you want to do it safely and smartly.

I'd love to hear your internet dating stories, especially if you've met a love that way. Do tell.....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day....or is it?

Valentine's Day is almost upon us.

How does it feel for you?

I can recall, when I was single, that I often found it a challenging occasion. I was working in Manhattan at the time, surrounded by florist, candy and card shops. When I ventured out during lunch time, I remember strategically crossing certain streets so as to avoid passing the windows chock full of beaming red love-related gifts on display.

Even when I was dating someone, Valentine's Day sometimes felt complex, depending on the nature of our relationship. Do you buy a card for someone if it's a new relationship? If so, what should the card say? Is a card enough? If you want to give a gift, how would it be interpreted? What if I give him a card, but I don't get one in return? And, should we have a date on Valentine's Day, and if so what is the significance of it? Does it need to be by candelight? Who picks the place? etc.....I could go on 'n on.

As you can see, I drove myself crazy, and probably overanalyzed the holiday. But, really, it was all in an effort to do the right thing, and send the right message to my hopeful Mr. Right Mensch.

But, why put all that pressure on yourself?!

Let me make a suggestion.

Make Valentine's Day a day of self love. Let it be an empowering holiday for you where you do something sweet for yourself that you wouldn't normally do. Have you been wanting to book a massage? How about a girls get together watching a classic chick flick? How about a guys night out at the local sports bar? Celebrate the people you love in your life. Maybe even start a new tradition. Plan a lunch with your favorite gal pals and make it a meal you'll always remember. It's a nice break in the day, and you can do it year after year, even after you meet your mensch.

How often do you give yourself permission to chill? I can personally confess that whether single or married, I've never been great at it. My To Do list is ever growing and never ending. If that sounds like you, take advantage of Valentine's Day and don't think about looking for a mate, if you're not already dating someone. Focus on being the best you can be. Tell cupid to take a hike for today. You can resume your social networking tomorrow.

It's just another day. And, if in the mood, you can always buy yourself a box of chocolates at 1/2 price the day after.

REMINDER -- Check out my new How to Marry a Mensch YouTube video, and be sure to post a comment on youtube if you like it, and pass it on --
You can also visit and click on the video from there.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

International Flirting Week

You might not have heard of it, but International Flirting Week is approaching. The dates are February 11-17, and here's the description of the occasion: Celebrating the ancient art of flirting and recognizing the role it plays in the lives of singles seeking a mate, couples looking to sustain their love and those simply exchanging a playful glance with a stranger, acquaintance, colleague, etc.

Now that you've marked your calendar accordingly :), what kind of flirter, if any, are you?

Do you like to flirt? Do you do it with ease? Or, do you shy away from attempting it? Do you aspire to flirt, but don't know where to start?

I used to co-host an event in NYC a number of years ago called the School of Flirting. We would meet at a comedy club once/month, and offer tips to singles in the audience, play flirting games, comics performed, etc. It was a fun time, but also designed to be helpful to those seeking to brush up on their flirting skills.

What I often found is that flirting, for some, is a skill they have yet to acquire. If you have a job, making the transition from work to play, isn't the easiest, as you know. But, once you let your hair down and decide to turn your attention to socializing, are you able to make eye contact with someone? Do you exhibit open body language? Is making small talk something you attempt?

The idea behind flirting is that you catch the eye of someone you'd like to meet. On the most basic level, this is done by catching someone's glance, smiling, then looking away, and repeating. The key is to make sure they are totally aware that you are smiling at them, otherwise you won't get anywhere. Also important is open body language. If you're in a social setting, do you stand with your arms crossed? Are you looking down at the ground?

If it helps, hold a glass in your hand, so you can't cross your arms so easily. And, make sure you don't look like you want to keep to yourself.

If you go out with friends, don't surround yourself by the "troops," so to speak. It is hard to break through that, if someone would want to approach you.

Flirting doesn't necessarily come naturally to everyone, and that's ok. But, the more you do it, the more automatic it will become. And, if you've taken the time to venture out, you want to at least look like you're having a reasonably good time. That will make you all the more appealing to the opposite sex, and that's what leads to optimum socializing success.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Under the Carpet

A friend with a 20 something daughter married about a year confessed to me this week that her daughter is on the brink of divorce and how sad it is. She went on to talk about the beautiful wedding she had on a lakefront, surrounded by loving friends and family, and how much time and effort had gone into to planning it. Not to mention the considerable expense. A gorgeous wedding gown. Glorious food. You name it. Followed up by a 10 day European honeymoon. It was a day and time in their young lives full of hope and promise. Yet, for those who really knew the couple, their relationship and courtship had been one with an undercurrent of volatility.

There was a lot of love between them, but these were two strong-willed, somewhat freewheeling people coming together, yet not curbing their damaging ways. They enjoyed eachother and shared impressive spending habits (and debt), but that wasn't the major problem. One of their challenges was that both were, in fact, somewhat immature in terms of what a marriage requires. And, more importantly, there was abuse on the part of each. One relied on many meds for depression and sleeplessness, and the other was a gambler and perennial drinker.

After attempting marriage counseling, they have reached the conclusion it's best to split up before too much time passes. Hopefully, each will now focus on their respective personal challenges, and be stronger and more knowing for future relationships. It is unfortunate that it took this breakup for them to acknowledge their out of control behavior.

This led me to think about the notion of burying something under the carpet. Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you are dating someone and really care for them, yet there is something that you continually overlook? Do they drink more than you think they should? Do they have other habits that are not healthful? Are they a happy person? Do they realize it, or resent it if you try to help or discuss it? Or, do you not discuss it because you feel it's not an issue? Might YOU be in denial? Or perhaps honestly unaware of how the problem might escalate overtime? Maybe it doesn't seem big now, but what happens if it continues? Do others close to you try to talk to you about it, but you feel they're overreacting?

Trust me. The situation will not go away on its own. If you have a concern now (or others do), it will only get worse as time goes on, if the person doesn't want to change. You can't be someone's savior if they are unwilling or unknowing. You can try, but what about you? How long can you keep it up? It's not your job, and shouldn't become your life's mission.

This makes me think of actor Heath Ledger who we just lost at such a young age. A beloved father of a two year old, and ex-fiance of someone who adored him. Toxicology reports have yet to come in, but the press has reported challenges with drugs in the past. What a shame! I have to believe that those around him tried to help. He was actually referred to as a "mensch" by a friend, as quoted in a NY newspaper. But, sadly, a troubled mensch, at that.

So....I urge you not to slide something under the rug. If you are in a relationship or contemplating entering one, or taking an exsiting love to a more serious level, be sure to proceed with your eyes wide open. Don't be fooled if the person makes light of what you see as a potential problem. And, don't not take note if someone who cares about you tries to open your eyes. Take heart, and listen, even if it hurts. Sometimes they know better because we are so close to a situation and person. Your relationship will suffer in the end if concerns are swept away without being tackled, and you deserve better.

Note: Check out my new Youtube video.