Relationship Advice

Man’s Best Friend or Competition? How to Date Someone with a Dog

 

iStock-615075394 copy.jpgForget the mother-in-law. Sometimes the most difficult family member is the four-legged hairball who drinks out of the toilet. Managing an obnoxious animal can be difficult, but the real difficulty lies in dating someone whose priorities are out of order.

 

If you’re feeling like a powerless third wheel, there are ways to get your relationship in a better place. Below, we’ve outlined the most common problems that arise when dating a pet owner and how to approach them.

 

Problem: The dog sleeps in a bed—with both of you.

Solution: Tell your SO (significant other) that you’d like to keep the bed on hold for sleeping and other “special activities”. Between the pet hair and the lack of space, this request shouldn’t come as a surprise. Snag a dog bed and keep it in the corner of the bedroom to accommodate the new arrangement. If you’d prefer to keep the dog outside of the bedroom entirely, vets suggest putting the dog bed in a warm enclosed area away from heavy traffic areas (i.e., hallway, family room, home office, etc).

 

Problem: The dog is poorly trained, and your significant other isn’t doing anything about it.

Solution: Explain how the pet’s behavior makes you feel. For example, you could say, “Rover went crazy and tried to bite the mailman. It was really stressful, and I was worried about liability issues.” Then, pivot to the solution: “I think we need to enroll in some obedience classes. Here’s one that has rave reviews.” If your partner pushes back on the formal classes, suggest some in-house training that includes crating the dog after bad behavior.

 

Problem: You are allergic to your partner’s dog or cat.

Solution: This is tricky. Aside from suggesting some antihistamines, there isn’t much you can do. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the best way to keep allergies at bay is to:

  1. Keep animals away from the bedroom
  2. Vacuum often with a HEPA filter
  3. Wash your hands after handling your pet
  4. Try to bathe your pet once a week or you can hire a doggy concierge to arrive to your home and clean the furry loved one in a mobile van in the driveway.

If cohabitation is in jeopardy because of your partner’s pet allergies, you have to figure out which relationship you value more: the one with your partner or the one with your pet.

 

Problem: You can’t go on vacation, because the pet “has anxiety” without his owner.

Solution: Before traveling, set up some time to interview pet sitters. Give your partner (and pet) some time to get comfortable with the idea of a new caretaker. Once you’ve picked the right pet sitter, you can leave for vacation worry free. If your SO is still hedging with the pet sitter, frame the situation from a cost perspective. One-way flights with a pet in tow can cost $100-150 or, as much as $1000 for a long stint in cargo. Hotel fees can also add up to $100 per night.

 

 

Problem: Your partner co-parents the pet with a crazy ex.

Solution: Establish some boundaries. Encourage your partner to come up with a set schedule for pet care and get it confirmed well in advance. Last minute changes or pet sitting requests can add unnecessary emotional reactivity.

 

The best way to approach any issue is to have a solution in mind. A new plan might not be the perfect answer, but it’s a start. For many people, the pet is family, and family is forever. If your partner isn’t prioritizing your needs over the pet, you will need to decide if you can handle being #2 in your partner’s life.

 

How and When to Talk Kids with Your Date

iStock-637143422 copy.jpg

When it comes to deal breakers, we start filtering with the usual suspects: smoking, level of education, religious background, etc. However, life goals—like the decision to have children or not—shouldn’t be treated any differently.

 

According to the US Census Bureau’s survey in 2014, 28.9 percent of women between the ages 30-34 are . This percentage is at an all-time high and, according to other surveys, this trend isn’t stopping anytime soon. Women are postponing pregnancy or not having children at all. For many women thinking about their waning fertility, the topic of kids—to have them or not—is a topic better had sooner than after months of dating.

 

Although men don’t have a biological clock to contend with, they might have family expectations of their own or want to be sure their partner wants to remain before committing. In one poll conducted by the Associated Press in 2013, more than 8 in 10 men said they were interested in becoming fathers. With men’s continued desire to procreate and more women opting to postpone pregnancy, figuring out where kids—or if—kids fit into the plans is a crucial milestone.

 

Talking about future family plans is important, but it’s a tricky conversation to initiate. Women worried about family planning will want to initiate the conversation sooner, but often they do so at the risk of scaring potential partners off or making their partners feel like sperm donors. Men, on the other hand, might feel like they’re adding pressure to their partners to bear the burden of pregnancy.

Step 1. Consider timing.

 

The first three dates should not reference a future. Talking about your future life together before spending enough time together sends a desperate message: Your partner’s personality and behavior isn’t that important. If you’re bringing up kids before establishing any real connection, your partner will feel more like a means to an end instead of being an actual end.

 

The best time to weave hopes of a future family is when the relationship is transitioning from dating to something more serious. When it’s safe to assume you’ll see each other rather than wondering if you’ll see each other, you can start weaving in references to a future family without any kind of pressure-inducing discussion.

 

Step 2. Consider your word choice.

 

When you talk about a future family, nix the deadlines. The point of the conversation is to understand where your partner falls on the family-planning spectrum—not when you’d like to get pregnant/impregnate.

 

If you’re sure you want children, try:

  • I never thought I’d say this, but I’m actually looking forward to driving a minivan full of little leaguers.
  • Not now, but in the next few years, I’d be interested in starting a family.

 

If you’re sure you do NOT want children, try:

  • Although I enjoy kids, I’ve never felt the call to have my own. I want to make sure you know that upfront, so you don’t miss out on any life experiences you might be looking forward to.

 

If you aren’t sure about having children, try:

  • I haven’t spent too much time thinking about my future family. I think so much of that answer depends on my partner.

 

Step 3. Get honest about your needs.

 

If you’re sure you don’t want children and you know your partner does, do the right thing and set your partner free. To continue dating despite misaligned future paths is a waste of time for both of you. If, on the other hand, you’re sure you do want kids, and your partner doesn’t feel the same, do not waste your precious time trying to convince him or her otherwise.

Your New Years Guide to Ghosting

 

iStock-653123384 copy.jpgYou’ve met someone new. You’ve been out on a few great dates. All signs point to a promising future and then nothing. Your date—and any hint of a relationship—disappears into thin air.

 

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. You, like so many others, have been ghosted. When I was dating ages ago, way before the term “ghosting” made its debut, I called this “pulling a Houdini.” Ghosting happens when someone ceases contact without explanation. In lieu of a break-up conversation or a gentle letdown, a ghoster simply disappears in the hopes that the silence will send the message.

 

In this era of digital dating, the rate of ghosting is higher than ever. In one study by online dating site Plenty of Fish, results showed that 78% of people between the ages of 18 and 33—have been “ghosted” at least once.

 

If you’ve been ghosted…

 

Realize that the ghoster’s lack of communication isn’t about you. Ghosting happens when someone tries to suppress their own uncomfortable emotions and, in an effort to numb them, avoids communicating. Ghosting isn’t meant to be malicious; ghosters generally consider their actions to be “nicer” than an upfront conversation.

 

Getting ghosted can be extremely painful. Many people on the receiving end are left not only questioning the validity of the relationship, but also their own judgment. They may wonder why they didn’t see it coming or read the signs. Feelings of abandonment and loss ensue.

 

Though you may not receive the closure you need, you do have the power to write your own ending. A simple message may help you tie up loose ends even when your date has opted for a less thoughtful route.

 

Possible closure messages include:

 

  • “I enjoyed spending time getting to know you. Unfortunately, it seems this wasn’t the right time for us. I’m not expecting an explanation but, if you’d like to chat, I’m available.”

 

  • “Given how close we became, I would appreciate a quick conversation to understand your feelings. Though I’m not expecting to hear from you, some communication could help us land in a better place.”

 

The goal of your closure message is to make a definitive request for communication while also demonstrating that you are moving forward regardless of whether it happens. The request shows that you have self-respect while also giving someone an opportunity to make right or, at the very least, exit the relationship with integrity.

 

An additional thought… If you suspect that you are being ghosted – for example, if you haven’t heard from a date in a couple days and feel like calling it off before getting hurt, reconsider his or her schedule. It’s tempting to assign intent to a lack of communication, but in the preliminary stages of dating, not many people know how to prioritize their personal lives, careers, and new relationships.

 

You could send a message like this:

 

  • “Looks like your week is as busy as mine. Wanted to double check for Tuesday.”

 

If you’re planning to ghost…

 

You’ve been set up with a new date. You’ve exchanged texts and you’re looking forward to meeting. You have a date on the books and then something changes. You might have received an awkward message or a sudden drop in messaging that is causing you to reconsider that first date. Finally, after much deliberation, you send a quick message: “Schedule got a little hectic on my end. I’m sorry I won’t be able to make dinner. Maybe we’ll meet another time!”

 

You thus have canceled the date without an alternative proposal for a new time and are hoping that your date will understand and move on. (I am not even addressing extreme ghosting here, which is even worse and horribly rude – i.e. blowing off the date and not even contacting the person.)

 

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Most ghosters have also been the victim of ghosting, so you can choose to perpetuate the cycle, or not. Although you might argue that this is a case-by-case decision, the way you end a relationship is a reflection of your personal brand. Approaching others with respect and honesty will help you attract someone who subscribes to the same thinking.

 

Before calling it quits, realize that going out with someone is the only way to know if he or she is worth pursuing. Throwing in the towel before meeting isn’t helping you find the love of your life any quicker; it’s just an excuse that’s keeping you from growing and learning.

 

One message you could send if you’re thinking about ghosting:

 

  • “Hi! My week is crazy. I’m thinking it might be better for me to go out for coffee instead of dinner. Does this work?”

 

This message might not be ideal, but keeping the date casual might be better than nixing the date completely.

5 ways people unintentionally sabotage relationships

 

iStock_000032882866Small.jpg

It’s impossible to break patterns without awareness. Whereas ending a relationship is seemingly straightforward, ending relationships without fully understanding why is a dangerous pattern—a pattern that can’t be broken unless we employ serious self-reflection. Focusing on the outward makes us feel powerless to make changes; it’s easy to surrender to a victim mentality. Below are the most common ways men unintentionally sabotage relationships:

 

  1. Holding on to a relationship fantasy.

Believing that the grass is always greener—that there is better elsewhere and anything less than perfect won’t do—is a mechanism that shields people from deeper levels of intimacy. If you believe better is just around the corner, there is no reason to invest fully, emotionally or otherwise, in the current relationship.

 

The belief that better exists is usually rooted in fear—fear of commitment, fear of losing one’s individuality, and the fear of pain. Believing that something better exists outside of the relationship mitigates the fear. Looking deeper within will reveal that the greener grass mentality is a projection of the discomfort we have within ourselves; idealizing something or someone who isn’t real soothes those uncomfortable feelings.

 

What to do: Take an objective look at your relationship patterns.

  • Are you constantly seeking change?
  • Why did your last relationships fail? What was your role in that?
  • Are you content?

Figuring out what you idealize in a partner might be a good starting point to figure out what you’re missing within.

 

  1. Inability to address pain openly.

Emotional intimacy can only be achieved through vulnerability. Being unable to share openly and truthfully will inhibit emotional depth and closeness. In The Real Rules of Life: Balancing Life’s Terms with Your Own, Ken Druck, PhD., writes that men learn that anger is a “good” male emotion as it demonstrates toughness and makes some men feel like they are in control. After years of programming, it’s no wonder that many men act aggressively in the face of stress, fear, sadness, or loss.

What to do: Learn to identify your emotional needs and learn how to get these needs met in and out of your primary relationship. This is a process; a therapist can help make it easier.

 

  1. Taking feedback personally instead of objectively.

Criticism can be highly triggering; hearing something that challenges a strong ego can cause an emotional reaction. Not only does this reaction reveal insecurity, these emotional reactions make will make it harder for your partner to communicate openly.

 

What to do: Stop Defending.

According to Robert Taibbi, LCSW, the best way to handle your partner’s concerns is to affirm your good intentions and seek a better understanding of your partners needs. Trying to build a case that refutes your partner’s point of view might stroke your ego, but it will ultimately prolong resolution.

 

  1. Failing to recognize your partner’s love language.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman describes the most common ways people feel loved: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. If you haven’t discovered your partner’s language, reading this short book will help you learn how to express feelings more effectively.

 

Often times we express love in the way that makes us feel most loved, but that is not necessarily the way your partner will feel most loved. Additionally, learning your partner’s love language will help you avoid situations that could be especially devastating. For example, if your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, non- constructive criticism or failing to express appreciation will be very painful for a partner who is more sensitive to verbal communication.

 

  1. De-prioritizing the relationship.

Complicating factors—work, children, aging parents—can certainly detract focus from the relationship. Situational distractions are inevitable, but letting distractions, and the distance that follows, get out of hand is a dangerous pattern that gets in the way of valuing your partner.

 

What to do: Schedule couple time.

Date night, Skype dates, weekend getaways—whatever you choose is irrelevant. The most important part is that you choose something. Be intentional. The 9-5 autopilot lifestyle can easily suppress passion and spontaneity. The busier you are, the more important it will be for you make room for quality time.

 

Why isn’t he asking me out again?

Have you ever been on a first date that you thought went great to later find out that Mr. Wonderful didn’t call you again? Paranoia can kick in, wondering if you are the one responsible for the outcome.  Here are a few reasons that we hear at Linx as to why guys don’t ask their dates out again and how you can go from dating purgatory to dating bliss.

-Her look is intimidating  (examples include: she wears bright red lipstick, or dresses almost ‘too together’ looking, she wears too much make-up…)

Our advice is wear basic make-up on the date and never wear red lips (men can’t visualize kissing red lips no matter how perfect your pout. Opt for a sheer pink, or neutral instead. Save the red lips once you are in a relationship. The look is too harsh.)  For make-up think: sheer pressed powder or sheer foundation, a little concealer under the eyes, neutral eye shadow, basic eye liner if needed, mascera, and finally sheer lips. 

For clothing, it’s so specific depending on the context of the date, but a good rule of thumb is to dress nice but not a look that screams high maintenance (example is wearing outwardly designer labels head to toe. LV purse, Dior logo jacket, Burberry pants, Hermes belt!). Less is more! Also, don’t wear black. Men are like hummingbirds and respond well to color. Color is approachable. Black is for date 5+ and certainly once in the relationship! 

With all of this said, we don’t think anyone should change themselves for a guy. If he’s truly intimidated by you, he probably isn’t worth your time.

-She competed with me

If a female exerts herself on the date by name dropping the schools she went to, her connections socially and professionally, and spewing her resume, guys might be impressed but it’s not what they want to hear on a first date. Like our advice above about softening the look to appear more approachable, the same principle applies to the conversation you have on your date.

This isn’t about hiding your accomplishments or lying about your goals, instead it’s about sharing surface level information, perhaps scratching the surface on date one conversationally until you’ve built some trust. When women focus the majority of conversation on business or academic pedigree on the date, many men place her in the friend zone bucket…instead of the future Mrs bucket. She’s “one of the guys” or just doesn’t “get” accentuating one’s femininity and revealing a warmer energy- which appeals to men of all ages, heritages, and personality types. Be the woman that men want to be around, not the type who feels the need to prove herself.

 

5 Easy Ways to Attract a Quality Woman

 

iStock-543806276 copy.jpgFinding someone single, attractive, and interesting is only half the battle. Finding someone capable of sharing a future can be a much more difficult task. If you find yourself dating—but never finding sustainability—with the same type of women, you need to think about re-evaluating your dating style.

Homework

Make a list of all the qualities you want in a partner. Now ask yourself: Do I possess these qualities? If the answer isn’t a definite yes, then it might be time to re-evaluate your expectations.

The best way to attract a quality woman is simple: Become that which you’d like to attract. Here are 5 ways to get her attention.

 

  1. Do interesting things.

Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, so many of us fall into routines—and the routine can get old. No need to make grand changes, you can spice up your schedule with relatively small tweaks. Opt for a cooking class, art show, or concert. Try a new lunch place. Meet people different from yourself. Say “yes” to new experiences, even if it’s ‘not your thing’.

The most interesting people have lived through vast experiences—not all of which were pleasant. Successes and failures all contribute to a well-rounded character, so it’s in your best interest to take some risks. You will surprise yourself, and she will appreciate you for it.

 

Homework

If you’ve invited to a networking event, dinner party, or frankly any social gathering, NEVER refuse an invitation. You never know who you are going to meet. Furthermore, try two new activities in the next 60 days. Diversify your routine and see what happens.

 

  1. Enjoy the company of women, without an agenda.  

When finding a partner is top of mind, your conversation will slant in that direction instead of evolving organically. Give each other a chance to develop some attraction. The anxiety that can stem from a potential rejection will influence your interaction. Let the date be a secondary objective and just talk.

The thrill of the chase can also get in the way of determining if there’s anything beyond physical attraction. Instead of pursuing the most physically enticing woman, try to find the woman who makes you feel the most comfortable. Establishing some semblance of emotional connectivity will help you establish a firm foundation, the basis of any real connection.

 

Homework

Before asking her out, ask yourself: Would I be friends with this person? If the answer is no, ask yourself why you’re asking her out in the first place.

 

  1. Put yourself in her world.

Imagine your dream woman. What kind of things does she enjoy doing? Art? Sports? Horses? Music? Go to places that attract the type of people you’d like to meet. It’s not impossible to meet someone special during last call at the bar, but the odds of making a real connection aren’t in your favor. You’re better off making connections in places more conducive to conversation or in places that group people together based on shared interest.

 

Homework

Generosity and altruism are always attractive, and it doesn’t necessarily mean opening your checkbook. Find an upcoming event that interests you, and volunteer your time.

 

  1. Be prepared to carry the conversation initially.

Let’s be clear: Women struggle with conversation as much as men, but men are generally tasked with breaking the ice. The good news is that you only need a few open-ended questions to get started.

The questions that are easiest to ask are going to be the same ones she’s answered from every other guy. Set yourself apart with questions that require her to answer from her emotional side, not her logical side. She mentions she completed a marathon. You could go with something obvious like, “Where did you run?” or, you could try something new like, “What is it like to cross the finish line after so many hours?” Giving her an opportunity to share an experience with you will, in some ways, allow her to relive it again with you.

 

Homework

Did your last date feel like an interview? If so, the talk-to-listen ratio wasn’t balanced. Remember, G*d gave you two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk. Next conversation, limit yourself to asking two consecutive questions. Give her an opportunity to learn about you.

 

  1. Let your actions—not your words—show her who you are.

If you’ve found professional success, and it’s serving you well, you shouldn’t need to spell this out. Talking about what you have, who you know, and what you can provide isn’t attractive; it’s validation-seeking behavior. A quality woman won’t be with you for your bank account or Rolodex; she manages her own finances and social network.

If you’re outlining reasons for her to be with you, she will wonder why you feel the need to convince her. Spearhead a more interesting conversation about common interests or something that has less to do with your success and more to do with things you enjoy.

 

Homework

Instead of starting with the basic questions and getting more specific, work in the opposite direction. See how long you can talk without mentioning what you do for work. Engineering the conversation this way will force you to talk about the life you lead outside of the office. If this is challenging, it’s time to take some serious vacation and turn your phone off.

 

Attracting a quality woman begins with a fostering a stable, healthy relationship with yourself. These dating tips are just a few ways you can capture some interest; living your truth and being comfortable with who you are is the best place to start.

 

 

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

couple_talking_coffee.jpg

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.