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How and When to Talk Kids with Your Date

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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.

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.


6 Signs He’s Boyfriend Material

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During the first stages of dating, it’s tough to know if your current date situation is worthy of a more in depth investment—with your time and your emotions. Here are 6 telltale signs that the one you’re seeing has the stuff that boyfriends are made of.


  1. He remembers the little things.

Men who are genuinely interested keep track of information that is specific to you—your favorite movies, foods you dislike, places you want to see. Though they may not appear actively engaged, you’d be surprised with how many details they’re absorbing.


Here’s what it looks like: He knows you get cold—even when it’s 70 degrees outside. He will make sure you know where to find a blanket or he’ll set aside his favorite sweatshirt or oversized sweater just for you.


  1. His values his family.

Staying connected with the parents and siblings reveals that he’s able to maintain relationships with the ones who matter most. Even if drama lingers at home, he has a way of seeing the bigger picture. A guy who prioritizes his family will be more likely to invest in a family of his own and sustain a relationship with you through for the long haul.


Here’s what it looks like: He talks about his sister’s upcoming visit…and hopes you will be available to meet her.


  1. He has excellent follow though.

If he says he will call, he does. He doesn’t just talk about plans; he actually makes them. If he’s serious, you won’t need to push or prod to see action; he’s happy to orchestrate gestures—big and small—to keep things interesting.


Here’s what it looks like: When my client’s date had to fly out for work travel, my client said he would pick her up when she returned. Unfortunately, the date’s plane was delayed. Despite an 11:30 p.m. arrival, he was there to drive her home.


  1. He puts you first.

There is nothing more telling about a man’s intentions than the way he prioritizes your needs over his. We’re not talking about a man doormat; we are talking about someone who is committed to ensuring that his date is comfortable and happy.


Here’s what it looks like: My friend felt ill at a basketball game with her date. Instead of asking her to stay till half time or getting annoyed about losing out on the great seats, he found her some Advil and quickly escorted her home. The next day he called to check on her.


  1. He communicates with you often.

Despite his busy schedule, he always makes time to check in. It’s not the length of the message that counts; it’s the frequency. You might get a text, a phone call, or even a social media nod. Whatever it is, you won’t be left wondering if or when you’ll hear from him.


Here’s what it looks like: After two weeks my friend’s date left for international work travel. Between the time changes and the work load, she didn’t think she would hear from him for days. She was pleasantly surprised when he bought a new sim card and called her when he checked into his hotel.


  1. He’s interested in growing and evolving.

He realizes that he’s a work in progress and wants to better himself. If he’s aware of his faults and interested in working them out, you’ll save yourself the un-winnable battle of trying to change someone. Openness about his desire to grow and change can be an opportunity that brings you closer together.


Here’s what it looks like: When my client first started dating in the wake of a painful divorce, he felt aloof and noncommittal. When he first met his girlfriend, he wasn’t sure how much to divulge about his past. Knowing that a lack of communication caused havoc in his first marriage, my client opted for transparency. He realized that for true intimacy to exist, he needed to experience vulnerability. His openness strengthened their bond and left both my client and his now girlfriend feeling secure about their relationship.

Linx graces The Times of London Newspaper & Magazine