Dating Advice

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.

 

350 dates in one year….what not to do on your next date!

Holiday_RomanticCouplein_Club.jpg

An interesting piece of feedback I hear from a lot of men and women who juggle working with a professional matchmaker, and dating apps, is how often their respective dates almost brag about how many people they date. This is a major “no no” when it comes to dating 101.

A friend I had a conversation with the other day mentioned that one man she is interested in, told her last year alone, he had over 350 dates with women. She chalked it up to being a Silicon Valley “data driven” type but the truth is, it’s not only daunting to imagine but a turn-off. 350 women! Who on earth has time for that unless unemployed and loving the hamster wheel lifestyle, yet with no real purpose or intention to settle down with one person?

My advice is not to talk about how much you have been dating recently. I think part of the psychology behind what fuels someone to mention all the dates they go on and people they meet is to showcase how desirable one is to the opposite sex. As in, the more I mention to him all the men that are emailing me for dates, the more he will think I am attractive.

The reality is, most of the time, if you share these conquests of sorts, you will appear as though you are not serious about finding a relationship. Instead, you’re in what I call “play mode” and not “serious mode.” There’s no denying play mode is awesome but be supremely careful with the information that comes out of your mouth and the image you project on dates. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to play the game right.

My advice is to focus on the man or woman who is sitting across from you on your date and show genuine interest in them. Be present, intentional, and motivated to find the right match with the “perfect” chemistry that works for you. If your date pokes around to see if you are actively dating and appears curious to hear stories, simply “don’t go there.” No need to lie or fabricate the truth but you can delicately switch topics with grace and dignity, while focusing on your date and not entering the slippery slope that is “TMI.”

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.

 

Is your relationship cheat-proof? Research reveals the most common reasons partners stray

 

jealous girl at party.jpg

After polling over 100,000 people, Chrisanna Northrup published extensive research on infidelity in her book The Normal Bar. Her findings explored not only the prevalence of cheating, but also perhaps more interestingly, she learned the situations that were most likely to encourage committed partners to stray.

 

  1. The Business Trip

For frequent travelers, life on the road comes with loneliness and stress—two circumstances that make meeting a beautiful stranger a welcome distraction.

36% of men and 13% of women admitted to cheating on a business trip. Respondents claimed that the sexual liaison was just too enticing to pass up, even if they had a robust sex life at home. Researchers concluded that the infidelity was related to sex, but also with the thrill of being wanted sexually and being able to engage and get away with it.

How long into a relationship is the business affair most likely to happen? 6-9 years.

 

  1. An ex

Even though the relationship maybe over, the feelings can still exist—especially for women. 32% of women admitted to having a fling with an ex or old interest, compared to 21% of men. Those who cheated with an ex reported a satisfying sex life at home; however, the forbidden nature of sleeping with someone who still holds emotional connectivity proved tempting.

How long into a relationship is an ex most likely to tempt? 2-5 years.

 

  1. Boredom in the bedroom

A mundane sex life is a big reason men and women entertain the idea of getting their needs meet elsewhere. 71% of men and 49% of women cheated after claiming boredom in the bedroom. Often times, people cheat because they are ashamed of their bedroom preferences. In an effort to avoid the conversation, people will suppress their desire and ultimately engage in an affair later to indulge it or, unfairly, project the shame onto their partner.

 

  1. Revenge infidelity

After a partner cheated, 9% of men and 14% of women admitted to cheating for revenge.

 

  1. An inability to be monogamous

Despite entering a committed relationship, many people just can’t dismiss the urge to cheat. 46% of men and 19% of women who strayed and were asked why said, “I just can’t help myself.”

 

But are there reasons people cheat that are beyond their control?

 

We are ultimately responsible for our decisions, but some factors can certainly cloud our better judgment. After meeting someone interesting and attractive, the brain produces a surge of dopamine. The dopamine rush triggers an intense, addictive euphoria—a euphoria that leaves us begging for more, even if it’s outside of the confines of our relationship.

 

There could also be a genetic propensity for cheating. In one study,  researchers surveyed 294 participants and discovered that those who had at least one parent cheat were twice as likely to cheat as the participants who had parents who maintained committed relationships.

 

Is there hope after infidelity?

 

Ironically, affairs don’t necessarily indicate a broken marriage. Although difficult, one of the biggest hurdles to getting the relationship back on track is working through the “victim/perpetrator” mentality. According to Dr. Joe Kurt, Ph.D., LMSW, the betrayed partner can start thinking that because he or she was cheated on, it’s up to the cheater to make everything right again. This blame-focused approach will ultimately sabotage any chance at reconciliation.

 

The best hope for a couple is to talk through the cheating—both the cheater’s experience and the injured partner’s response—in the presence of a counselor or therapist. Together, they can figure out the best ways to rebuild trust and demonstrate transparency.

Here’s How Women Flirt, According to Science

 

P19673882.jpgDemonstrating attraction oscillates between direct romantic overtures and subtle, almost subconscious, behaviors. Women—through cultural norms and socialization—are more prone to the latter. Flirting, mostly comprised of “nonverbal solicitation signals”, is the most common way women indicate preliminary interest, and it encompasses everything from a simple nod to physical contact.

 

Webster University Professor, Monica Moore, studied flirting behaviors in over 200 women. She along with two researchers, wanted to understand the most common flirting behaviors and then quantify the effects of flirting; they wanted to know just how much flirting influenced a potential male partner.

 

Moore and her team noted 52 flirtatious signals, but some of the most common signals included: hair flipping, giggling, sustained eye contact, smiling, dancing in place, moving closer, and showing off the neck.

 

After the man approached, the flirting escalated. Interested women would start touching his arms, legs, or back. Many would sit with their knee, foot or thigh touching his stool or his legs.

 

Ironically, the women who were approached the most were not the most attractive; they did not have as much facial symmetry or traditionally desirable hip-to-waist proportions. Instead, these women flirted the most—roughly 35 flirtatious signals per hour.

 

Which flirt techniques work best?

 

If flirting feels unnatural, you can still attract male attention with a simple smile. Researcher Nicolas Guegen, PhD, sent a single woman into a bar and asked her to make eye contact for 2 seconds at single men. He then asked her to maintain the 2 second eye contact but add a smile. The additional smile nearly quadrupuled the approach rate. The stronger the “invite”, the more likely a man will approach.

 

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.