Dating Tips for Women

Observations from a Single Dad in the Bay Area Dating Scene

 

Dad and little girl on beach.jpgIn 2014, I became single after the completion of a thirteen-year relationship, which included eight years of marriage. These days I’m a 43-year old single dad with two girls, ages five and eight, navigating a dating scene that has changed quite a bit since 2001. Amy asked me to write about some of my observations, which I thought would be fun. Naturally, what has worked for me may not work for others and these are just some of my thoughts at this point in time. I’m sure that as I continue to learn and grow my thoughts will also evolve.

 

  • Dating Experience as a Single Dad: Within a few months of becoming single, I started dating again. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time but I wasn’t ready emotionally at all! Looking back though I think it was important to just get out and meet women. I was honest about my situation with those that I met. Shortly thereafter, I found myself in a nine-month relationship, which ended up really helping me to get back on my feet. Since then I’ve been on over thirty dates and while none have panned out from a relationship perspective it has provided me with experiences that I’ve used to help narrow my focus on what I’m really looking for in a partner.

Key Takeaways: Just get out of the house and have fun! Don’t overthink things. Every date doesn’t have to be a perfect match and it is likely that with each date you will learn about something new and will grow as a person. I’ve been on dates including night swimming at Aquatic Park, rock climbing, cycling, hiking, running, formal events and more – all with women that I barely knew. I would have never experienced any of these fun events if I didn’t just get out of the house!

 

  • Online Dating: Of course, back in 2001 there was no such thing as online dating. Sure, you could have surfed the personals in the SF Weekly or Bay Guardian, but that wasn’t something that was done by anyone that I knew. It was really all about getting out and making a real effort to meet women in person. No texting – we would exchange numbers and leave voicemail messages. How fun it was to experience the suspense of waiting for a woman to return a message on the answering machine! Or coming home and asking your roommates, “Did she call?” Sadly, these days if you leave a voicemail instead of a text it seems most women would think you’re crazy.

The biggest issue I have with online dating is that no matter what the person looks like or writes like or even talks like on the phone, you just don’t know how it’s going to work out until you meet in person. This is a very time-consuming process because you end up going out with a lot of women that you would have never gone out with had you met the old-fashioned way to begin with. And while there is a plus side to this in terms of life experience and learning about new people as I described above, the downside is a seemingly constant state of not expressing interest in someone else, or vice versa. Even though everyone knows the process, it can still be a little disheartening, especially when you meet a really nice person and you wish the chemistry could just be there!

I also think that online dating presents a false sense of choice. Yes, there are tons of women that you could go out with, but really there’s only a tiny fraction that you would be compelled to see again after a first date, or vice versa.

Key Takeaways: Online dating can be useful and fun for an immediate high volume approach, but it can also be a time sink. Try to take it in bite sized chunks – do it for two or three months, then take a break. Or better yet, join an outdoor club/team (running, cycling, rock climbing, etc.) Prospects seem to be much better when meeting in the real world through a common acivitity. And in any case, if you meet someone that you really like, put real effort into making time for that person in your life. Don’t take those opportunities for granted and don’t play games.

 

  • Be Kind to Yourself: Shouldn’t life become easier and less complicated as we become older and wiser? While you’d think this would be the case, in terms of relationships we sometimes carry fears with us from prior experiences that can take a long time to heal. But don’t worry – we’re all in the same boat. So, if you’ve ever been in love, be elated that you had it while you did, and if you’ve never been in love remain hopeful because everyone deserves to be in love. I say this because many of the women I’ve met tell me that they stuck around too long for a man that wouldn’t commit and now they’re left with little time to start a family. Regardless of any mistakes you’ve made in past relationships, acknowledge them but don’t dwell on them. Learn from them. We’ve all made fumbles in life and the best we can do is to not repeat history.

Key Takeaways: Everything is working out just the way it’s supposed to. Enjoy the journey! Once you do find love either again or for the first time you’ll be glad that you experienced everything that you did. It will all make sense when it’s said and done.

After writing this piece I’m not sure if I wrote it for you or me! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it. I’d also like to say in closing that some of the most remarkable women that I’ve met in the past three years have come through Amy’s service. So, if Amy has a suggested date for you, try not to second guess it. Just go for it and increase your chances of finding love.

Is He Ready for Commitment? 7 Signs that Point to Yes

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There is nothing more frustrating than heading towards a serious, monogamous relationship only to hear your could-be-significant-other say, “I just don’t think I’m ready to commit.” Unfortunately, many women blame themselves for this outcome instead of chalking it up to poor timing or different long-term goals. Save yourself time, energy, and heartache by choosing men who want—not be convinced to want—a longer term relationship.

At Linx, we work exclusively with relationship-minded men, and we’ve noticed a few qualities that set them apart from their more casual counterparts. Here are seven signs to help you spot the difference between contenders and pretenders.

  1. Is he thoughtful about the time he spends with you?

He wants to make sure he sees you. He doesn’t invite you to hangout or casually mention that you should drop by his weekend BBQ. Instead, he asks you out and figures out a time based on your schedule. You’ll also notice that his dates are somewhat tailored to your preferences. He may take you to the restaurant that has your favorite dumplings or the art exhibit you mentioned in passing. He wants to share great moments with you—and that starts with thoughtful planning.

  1. Can you count on him?

Being able to rely on your partner for support is a big part of a sustainable relationship, and he will want to show you that he can handle one. It’s easy to feel infatuated when everything is going well, but does he have staying power when things get a little, hmmm, complicated? How did he react when you had a blow up at work? Was he available when you were sick with a nasty cold? If he always shows up for you, he’s showing that he’s worth the emotional investment.

  1. Can you talk about anything?

He’s willing to be straightforward about his feelings for you. If he’s not verbal, he finds other ways to show how he feels. He reaches for your hand. He holds the door for you. He stocks his fridge with your favorite snacks. He learns how you take your coffee. Give him an opportunity to show you how he feels; if he’s interested in long-term commitment, he will be attentive.

  1. Does he bring up exclusivity?

Sometimes the cues aren’t always verbal. You’ll notice that his phone isn’t blowing up with texts or calls from other women, because he’s buried all old flames. If you’re his +1 to an event and notice that all other attendees are in couples, he considers you two a couple.

  1. Does he take it slow?

Having sex at the right time—not having sex in a vacuum—becomes the goal. There is no pressure or focus on the sexual aspects of your relationship, because he knows that this part will evolve at its own pace. Men seeking casual flings will put an enormous amount of focus on the physical. Dates may seem rushed or overly casual and may feel more like activities to fill time until it becomes ‘suitable’ to have sex. How would he respond if you nixed the date without spending the night? If you predict any backlash whatsoever, he’s probably more interested in sexy time than learning about you.

  1. Does he talk long-term plans?

He might not be talking rings or kids, but he’s making plans that go beyond the upcoming weekend. Whether it’s scheduling a concert weeks away or inviting you to an upcoming wedding, he’s starting to assume you’ll be in the picture.

  1. Does he make you feel secure?

When a man is seriously interested, he wants to make you feel safe—physically and emotionally. In large crowds, he will help navigate you. If someone appears aggressive, your man is on alert. He’s an extra pair of eyes and ears making your physical well-being a priority. You’ll also notice that your man wants you to feel your best. You won’t feel jealous of other women, because your man takes time to compliment, and remind you of all the reasons you are special.

If you’re wondering how to get him to commit, you’re asking the wrong question. The right man for you—a man who is ready for a serious relationship—will show you that he is worthy of your time and affection. If you are ready to meet a commitment-minded man, consider emailing amy@linxdating.com and tell Amy a little bit about yourself.

Signs that You’re Dating a Man, Not a Boy

 

iStock-500303866 copy.jpgAlthough the exterior looks great, your partner might just be a boy in a grown man’s body. Although we’d like to think age communicates a certain level of maturity, we all know it’s just a number; there will be 50-year old boys and 20-year old men. Maturity and self awareness—gifts that come with life experiences—separate the men from the boys. Here’s how to tell if you’ve found yourself dating a mature adult, or a boy who hasn’t reached full maturity.

 

Boys want to hook up, men want to invest in a real physical and emotional connection.

At some point, the thrill of the chase is just not that thrilling anymore when there isn’t a future. He may have been a playboy in the past, but if he’s ready for one woman, he’s stopped communicating with exes and flings. If he’s still chasing tail at the bars or toggling between dating apps, he’s not ready to commit.

 

Boys slink away, men spearhead difficult conversations.

If someone gets angry, is there silent treatment involved? If so, perhaps your partner hasn’t fully grasped the necessity of effective communication. Whereas boys might become passive aggressive or distant after problems arise, men will spearhead the issues directly. If you’re with someone who can accept criticism, apologize, and tell you if something bothers him, then you are dating a man with serious communication skills.

 

Boys need constant guidance, men handle their business.

If you’re dating a guy who needs you to carry him home after a night out or someone to make him apologize for losing his temper, you’re probably dating someone who isn’t fully self aware. A few wild nights are acceptable, a few wild nights that reveal your partner’s complete lack of self control or poor judgment indicate a lack of maturity.

 

Boys don’t think about their environment, men fine tune their living space.

This point might seem harsh and overly obvious, but how your partner lives reveals a lot about his personal habits. Grown men take pride in surrounding themselves with an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle. He might not live alone or have a lavish place, but you can tell he has invested in his surroundings.

 

Boys live in the moment, men are focused on the future.

A man who is ready to settle down will build a firm foundation—a way to support himself and take care of the people he loves. Although he’s living in the present, men tend to act with a nod to the future. Boys are more interested in the fleeting moments that have no real staying power.

 

Boys tear you down, men genuinely compliment you.

When boys feel insecure, they might resort to teasing or back-handed compliments to chip away at your confidence. Men, however, understand that a woman with self-esteem won’t respond to such behavior. If a boy finds himself overwhelmed by his overachiever girlfriend, he might want to downplay her accomplishments, whereas a man will not only embrace the success, but want to share her achievements with everyone.

 

After a string of unsuccessful dates, it can feel like you have a knack for attracting boys exclusively. Keep going; the right man is waiting for you and if he’s still not showing up, get in touch. We’d be happy to help.

 

 

7 Ways to Nurture Your New Relationship

 

iStock-541824336 copy.jpgOne of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the opportunity to share life’s joys with someone else. Unfortunately, so much of us are conditioned to seek the things—and the people—either out of our reach, or that might seem to satiate what we see as the current shortcomings in a current relationship. It is easy to start believing the grass is greener instead of investing in what we have. To save time, we want to know who “checks all the boxes”, and are quick to nix a future with anyone who might not follow the image we had in mind. For these reasons and so many more, we unintentionally jeopardize and sabotage our relationships.

 

Strong relationships take work and self awareness. The strongest relationships are built on a firm foundation between two partners who share the same values. To nurture a new relationship or breathe some new life into the one you’re currently in, try the following:

 

  1. Foster dependability.

Can you count on your partner to do what he or she says they’ll do? Can you be relied upon in the same way? If you are unsure if your partner will have your back during the hard times, you might ask yourself, “what’s missing?” You or your partner might not be taking the relationship as seriously as it should be for long term viability.

 

Take your promises seriously and only say what you’re sure you can deliver. If for any reason you fall short, acknowledge your mistake. Try to anticipate your partner’s needs in advance, so you can practice dependability without expectations.

 

What it looks like: Knowing that his girlfriend had to get her oil changed, Paul offered to pick her up from the mechanic to spare her a long wait time. When he arrived to pick her up, he asked the mechanic about the flashing engine light and proceeded to fill her tires with air. Though his gesture was a simple one that took 15 minutes, his actions spoke volumes about his commitment and dependability.

 

  1. Honest communication.

Be honest with each other at all times — even if the consequences may somewhat hurt the other person. When your partner is communicating, listen with an open mind, without interruption, and notice the tone of their voice and facial expression. Not all conversation is verbalized; sometimes your partner will tell you everything you need to know without any words.

 

What it looks like: Annie knew it was ridiculous to feel jealous of her boyfriend’s attractive female coworker, so she kept this to herself. “Why bring drama into this? Obviously, they just work together,” she thought noting her own insecurity. When she learned that her boyfriend had an upcoming work trip with the attractive coworker, she started acting distant and passive aggressively. Finally, she fessed up. “I’m sorry to say, but I feel jealous and insecure.” When her boyfriend learned what was going on, he reassured Annie and suggested that she join for the next happy hour so she could meet all of his coworkers.

 

  1. Asking for emotional support.

Expressing vulnerability is the cornerstone of building an emotionally supportive and sound relationship. Talk to your partner about the things that scare you, that embarrass you, that challenge you. Talking about these uncomfortable things is not just an exercise in your communication skills, it is an opportunity to build trust.

 

  1. Fine tune the romantic intimacy.

As your communication skills improve and your relationship evolves, so will the way you express physical connection. If you refuse to communicate about what you want in the bedroom, be prepared to have a less than fulfilling love life. If you intend on staying in a monogamous relationship, give your partner a chance to satisfy your needs.

 

  1. Balance alone time with partnership.

The cure for trouble in a relationship is not always more face time. It’s important that both people feel they can take space when they need it and return to their partner without anger or resentment waiting at home. It’s important to honor the urges we have to be by ourselves, but realize the impact our absence can have on our partners. If you feel an urge to be alone, make it easier for yourself and your partner by letting him or her know in advance that you need some time. Some reassurance that your absence is not the result of anything he or she did will help a new partner understand your needs without confusion.

 

  1. Assess the way you fight.

In any serious relationship, disagreement is inevitable. Arguments will arise, and they may escalate into some heated conflict. If you find yourselves disagreeing often, ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this?” Sometimes the need to be right will stress the relationship in ways that are neither necessary or helpful. You will not be able to control your partner, but you can control the way you approach conflict.

 

What it looks like: A former client called crying after her boyfriend stormed out after an argument. “Every time we talk, I end up having to repeat myself, and finally I lost my mind and told him, “’You never listen to me and that’s why this relationship isn’t working.’” After calming down, the client realized that, when she lost her temper, she couldn’t acknowledge her boyfriend’s efforts to understand her. Instead of attacking his short comings, she started the conversation appreciating his efforts before moving into new ways they could improve the relationship together.

 

  1. Maintain your sense of self.

Do you lose yourself in a relationship? Establishing and maintaining your boundaries is necessary to keep your standards firm and your self respect intact. Letting a partner decide what you should and shouldn’t tolerate will lead to resentment from you and loss of respect from your partner. To compromise your personality to “fit” your relationship will ultimately ruin any chance at long-term sustainability.

 

These tips will help you nurture and build a strong, loving relationship, but they will only work their magic with consistent reinforcement. The effort and sacrifice will pay off, however, when you find yourself in a loving, sustainable relationship.

Harsh Truths: 6 Reasons Why Your Relationship Fell Apart

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Relationships end for a variety of reasons—some we can control, others we cannot. Before your next relationship, consider asking yourself if any of these issues are sabotaging your efforts at finding a deep, committed relationship.

 

  1. Your ex is STILL coming up

We all have a past, but when the past becomes the fodder of our present, you are creating a rift between you and your partner’s ability to connect. Talk of past relationships not only reveals that you’re not moving forward, it also jeopardizes your chances of a future. If you find yourself beginning sentences with “My ex and I…” or “When I dated X…” consider taking some time away from dating to understand why you’re still telling these stories.

 

  1. You couldn’t trust

It’s no surprise that trust is the crux of all healthy relationships; without the bond of trust, a couple will miss an opportunity to experience true intimacy. Aside from cheating, trust issues can also indicate jealousy, game playing, and possessiveness.

 

If relationships have ended because you couldn’t trust, ask yourself if it was because of actual events (i.e. your partner lied to you, broke promises, hacked into your phone) or if you are feeling unable to trust without cause (i.e. you feel jealous even though your partner has never strayed). Being able to differentiate feelings that stem from actual events versus unsubstantiated paranoia will help you uncover barriers to intimacy.

 

  1. You were Mr./Mrs. Right Now, not Mr./Mrs. Right

The relationship is guaranteed to fail if you find yourself on either side of this equation. Not all relationships are built to last—and that doesn’t make them any less important to our growth—but if you are looking for a life partner, meeting someone who is open to the same is crucial for long-term success.

 

If you are with someone until you land your dream job, move, lose weight, or meet someone better, you are wasting your time and your partner’s time. If your partner is not your priority, you aren’t ready for an enduring long-term relationship. If you’re wondering if you’re the top priority—you’re not.

 

  1. You harbor contempt

Dr. John Gottman, a leading expert on couples’ studies, concluded that the single, best predictor of divorce is contempt. Contempt, a toxic combo of anger, disgust and frustration, stems from a superiority complex. When we are unable to see our partner’s point of view because we believe they are less intelligent, sensitive, or competent than we are, we are making it impossible to communicate about the things that bother us.

 

In addition to contempt, there were three other closely related patterns of toxic communication: criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling (shutting down, no eye contact, etc.)

  1. You were emotionally dependent

If you are unable to make yourself happy, you will always seek someone who can distract you from the uncomfortable feelings you have towards yourself. Not only is it unfair to expect your partner to keep you afloat, it’s dangerous to allow someone else to hold the keys to your happiness. Codependent people usually don’t keep high standards when it comes to how others treat them, so it’s more likely that they end up with a partner who doesn’t treat them well. There are many ways to heal from codependency, but they all start with a belief that you—and you alone—can make yourself happy.

 

  1. You stopped appreciating your partner

A lack of appreciation comes in many forms. Perhaps you’ve stopped making an effort—to make fun plans, to keep up your appearance, to remind your partner how special they are. Taking someone for granted is a quick way to kill the romance and up the apathy.

 

When someone is asking what is best for “us”, compromise ensues. If you stop appreciating your partner’s efforts, it’s easy to stop asking “What is best for us?” and replacing it with “What is best for me?”

 

Of course not all reasons our relationships end are because we are at fault. Without the right timing, otherwise compatible people won’t be able to connect for reasons outside of their control. Age, seemingly just a number, will start to matter if he’s 28 finishing grad school and she’s 34 looking forward to starting a family. Life situations can also affect our chances of connection. If he’s ready to move things forward while she’s healing post divorce, the couple will not be able to connect on the same level. Situations can change, broken hearts can heal, and different phases can pass, but if the timing is going to be ‘off’ for more than a few months, it is better to make a clean break and revisit at another time.

 

Small Talk to Real Talk: 5 Ways to Get Him to Open Up

 

iStock-516655374 copy.jpgIf you are dating a strong and silent type, a shy guy, or someone with a more reserved personality, the conversation aspect of the date might not flow as smoothly as the underlying chemistry.

 

To draw him out if his shell and get the conversation flowing, try these five tips:

 

Tip #1: Assume a ‘listener’ stance

 

Square up, make eye contact, and maintain open body language. Make sure your phone is off the table. Being fully present is the clearest invitation that you’re ready to listen. Once the conversation starts flowing, pivot to active listening. Nodding, smiling, summarizing, and asking questions are the best ways to show that you’re interested.

 

Tip #2: Set the example

 

If you’re looking for someone to let their guard down, you should be ready to go first. Mutual disclosure is the foundation for real intimacy—and it can start as early as the first date. Encourage him to trust you and share more about himself by openly discussing yourself. The more comfortable you are revealing your shortcomings or not so stellar moments, the more comfortable he’ll feel doing the same.

 

Tip #3: Come ready with questions that are easy to answer—and ask them the right way.

 

To make preliminary conversations easier on both of you, ask questions about non-controversial, easy topics. Your best bets? Think food, movies, and music. Everyone has an opinion on each of these, and you’ll find that these topics are great spring boards into other topics.

 

THIS WORKS:

You: Glad we’re trying this new Italian place. What kinds of food do you like?

Date: I try to keep it healthy and stick to organic produce exclusively.

You: Have you tried any of the grocery delivery apps?

 

The conversation is naturally pivoting away from food and could move in a variety of directions. You’re giving him a chance to talk about cooking, shopping, using technology, startups, etc.

 

With your questions, be mindful about your bias which could make your date feel uncomfortable sharing an unfiltered perspective.

 

TOO MUCH BIAS :

You: Just had great wine in Napa. What is your favorite winery?

Date: I don’t drink.

You: —

 

Understandably, a question that can be answered with a yes or no isn’t going to have the legs that an open ended question would, but the real problem here is that there’s too much pressure to answer the question a certain way. This nuance, however slight, can make conversation that much harder for both of you.

 

Tip #4: Choose the right activity

 

De-pressurize any first date by picking something more active than the traditional coffee or cocktails focused date. Take a walk through a nearby park, browse the shops on the same street, or try a museum exhibit. Walking can make talking easier, especially when you’re walking around things or places to talk about.

 

If you’d like to get more creative, try a new experience together. Giving yourselves a new skill to learn or an event to attend will alleviate a lot of pressure to make constant conversation.

 

Tip #5: Ask for help

 

Asking for a little favor will encourage your date to invest just a little bit more emotion into you and the date experience. Try asking for something small like, “Could you double check that the restaurant has veggie options?” Or, “Can you tell me where I should take my parents when they visit? I need a list. ” As we mentioned before, the Benjamin Franklin Effect—a principle that explains why a person who has performed a favor for someone is more likely to do another favor for that person—is a good way to establish connection early on.

 

Remember, relationships unfold at their own pace. It’s natural to want more information about the person who interests us, but never at the sake of their discomfort. Do your best not to take your date’s lack of openness personally; their desire and ability to communicate is part of who they are and not a reflection of your conversational skills.

 

If you desire date coaching to help get you ready for summer, contact our founder Amy at: amy@linxdating.com  Amy can give you some simple skills to help you succeed in love!

 

Pheromones and Attraction

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Have you ever found someone completely irresistible, but you’re not sure why? Some scientists argue that we might be picking up on someone’s genetic compatibility with our sense of smell.

When we smell something, tiny odor molecules bind to receptor cells that travel directly to the brain for processing. Smell—unlike the other senses—is analyzed almost instantly. This rapid analysis is the reason why smelling something familiar can trigger an emotional response instantly, and sometimes these responses can be quite powerful. Think of the last time you smelled chocolate chip cookies. Did you feel a cozy, comfortable feeling? What about popcorn? Did you find yourself in an upbeat, casual mood?

If smells can solicit hefty emotional responses, can they trigger us to have romantic feelings?

Scientists still debate the answer, but they all can agree that the discussion starts with pheromones.

Pheromones describe the special cocktail of chemicals that our body releases that may influence the way people behave towards us. These chemicals—when smelled—are known to stimulate the hypothalamus, a part of the brain known to regulate sexual behavior, mood, and hormones.

To figure out how sensitive we are to pheromones, Swiss zoologist Claus Wedekind conducted “The Sweaty T-shirt Experiment.” He instructed 44 different men to wear the same t-shirt two consecutive nights. After collecting the t-shirts, he asked 49 different women to sniff each t-shirt and rate the odor for intensity, pleasantness, and sexiness.

Results showed that the women preferred the odors from men whose DNA was most different from their own. Because choosing a mate with a similar genetic makeup can cause a host of genetic complications for an offspring, the women’s choices show that they have an ability to analyze and gravitate towards men who guarantee greater reproductive success. In other words, women preferred sexual experiences with men who smelled a certain way.

Pheromones also solicit responses based on sexual preferences, not biological sex. In another study conducted by Dr. Ivanka Savic and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, a group of men—some straight, some gay—and women were asked to rate attractiveness to two different pheromones. Both the gay men and women responded strongly to the male pheromone, whereas the heterosexual males preferred the female pheromone almost exclusively.

Despite the science, there is no real way to determine the true effect of pheromones; There are simply too many mitigating factors. For example, it’s impossible to confirm the real reason we gravitate towards certain people we find attractive. It could be the scent they carry, but it also could be related to personality, confidence, appearance, or status.

If pheromones can influence sexual responses, is it possible to recreate certain smells to make yourself more sexually desirable?

Unfortunately, pheromones are an elusive mix of natural chemicals, impossible to replicate in a lab. To date, scientists (and fragrance companies) have not been able to get to the heart of what exactly makes up pheromones, how they are created, or how to emulate them. Some companies tout “love potions”, but these are most likely gentle, pleasant fragrances.

Pheromones could be influencing attraction, but it’s more likely a combination of factors with pheromones playing some small role. Visual cues, body language, and the quintessential “chemistry” of how your personalities mesh all play into your perception of a potential romantic encounter.