Category Archives: Dating

10 Life-Changing Habits Happily Single People Do Every. Single. Day.

happy woman

Get ready to LOVE your life!

Happy single people are just like happily coupled people.

Yep, you read that right!

Why? Because we know one of the greatest — and simplest — secrets in life. Every day, we get to hang out with the most amazing person we know … ourselves!

And this doesn’t change when we find our perfect someone, because that person should never “complete” us; they should complement us. “Loving yourself” isn’t just a lip service concept — it’s a real way of life, whether your life is a partnered or not.

Entrusting the sacred task of caring for you to anyone else can feel like a delicious perk, but it’s far from a necessity. And what better time to start putting yourself first than while you’re flying solo?

Happy-making habits will get you a long way towards not only being “content” as a single person but towards truly loving your single self too. So, to help you along here is some advice from those of us ALREADY rocking the happy single life. Here’s what we do that makes solo living so amazing:

1. We revel in our autonomy.

We do what we want to do, the way we want to do it, and on our own timeline. Why? Because we can! We appreciate not having to negotiate conflicting schedules, deal with remembering to update anyone on our whereabouts or make concessions for differing preferences.

2. We don’t wait around.

We ask ourselves, “What do I want to do?”, and then we do it (Or we don’t — it’s up to us.)

We don’t wait to get paired up to have whatever kind of fun we feel like having. If we want to go out, we go solo or wrangle a friend. We know that all activities are ours just as much as they belong to the coupled crowd.

Like what, you ask? My answer is anything — had off to a romantic island with a pal, travel abroad on your own, or explore neighborhoods in your city. Go to plays, museums, and films, eat in five-star restaurants, host Taco Tuesday for the gang, or just snuggle up in bed with a good book or film.

You can do it whether it’s unaccompanied or with someone else — be that someone else of the furry-friend variety or the friends-with-benefits sort, it’s your choice!

3. We make sure to get what we need.

Learning what’s needed to be in top mental, emotional, and physical shape is an individual journey.

Anytime you notice you’re cranky, upset, irked, or just all-around off-balance, there’s something you need that you’re not getting. Happy single people pay attention to having enough sleep, physical movement, companion time, alone time, and fun time — and when the crankypants alarm bells start going off, we take action!

4. We do things that make us genuinely happy.

We get a massage, buy ourselves flowers, grab a cupcake after lunch, or soak in a bubble bath. We indulge in life’s little luxuries.

5. We tend to our serenity.

Whether it’s a lunch-break walk at an urban park, a three-minute quickie meditation practice, or a hike with the dog, quiet time (and especially time outdoors if you can swing it) feeds us a healthy dose of calm between the many storms of everyday life on our own.

6. We nurture love in all of our relationships.

We spend focused love time with our dog, our cat, our pot-bellied pig, a close friend, or a family member (just maybe not the annoying family members). We volunteer at a local animal sanctuary or at another organization where we care about making a difference.

Love comes in many forms, and it’s there for the giving and the taking almost everywhere you look.

7. We spend time with lots of people.

We make random acts of kindness happen. We look forward to the friends we haven’t met yet, and invite sexy people to connect with us, to flirt with us, to lean in closer.

We make room for strangers just to make our day a little bit brighter and hopefully add to the joy of their days, too.

8. We keep a morning gratitude list.

It takes very little time, so why not? We write down three things we’re grateful for to remind us what’s good, what’s worth it, and what makes the human experience something to be thankful for each and every morning. Sometimes, I write mine in steam on the bathroom mirror.

9. We use the buddy system.

We cultivate deep friendships with other happy single people (think of it as your single crew’s very own social network) where we enjoy each other’s company, see each other’s pain, comfort each other when things are rough, cheer on each other’s victories, and most importantly, witness each other’s lives.

10. We build and tend to a life we love.

We decide what flavor of life we want and we get right to work on mixing up a batch of it. We don’t ask ourselves, “How much more of this can I stand?” but “How great can I stand it?” and we take it from there.

We make plans for the future, we build businesses, we write books, we make friends, we travel, we create art, we get involved in what matters to us. We love ourselves.

In short, truly happy single people make our lives COUNT!

I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor.  Pick up my book, 121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!) here!

By Wendy Newman, originally published on YourTango.com.

10 Stages Of Finding Love When You’re New To Online Dating

couple on a date

From the first click to the first date.

I had to go on 121 first dates before I found my love, Mr. Lucky #121. Can you even imagine? Boy, did I experience a lot. I saw the good, the bad, and the truly ugly, and I learned hundreds of lessons the hard way — so that you don’t have to.

With this in mind, I’ve discovered that there are 10 stages of online dating. Knowing about each stage will help you navigate the tricky and sometimes insidious world of online honey-hunting so that you can have more fun and freedom on your journey to meeting the love of your life.

Here are the online dating tips that come with each stage:

1. Ready to date.

You’re probably in one of two camps right now. You’re either:

  • Eager and enthusiastic: As in you’ve finally slipped out of that going-nowhere-for-way-too-long relationship, or the ink is drying on your divorce papers and you’re ready for the real deal this time.
  • Reluctant but willing to try this crazy online thing: Even though you don’t reeeally want to, it seems like everybody is doing it with some modicum of success, so why not give it a go? I mean, how bad could it be, right?

This is what “ready to date” looks like. So, pick yourself a site: Match, Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, JDate, Farmer’s Only — whatever suits your fancy. Once you’ve chosen your online automated matchmaker, you’ll need two things.

The first is a recent and kick-a*s profile photo. No pro photographer need. Ask your friend to shoot a half a dozen (well-lit and natural) candids on your smartphone or use a timer app that will take 100 selfies in under a minute and you can pose-pose-pose-pose-pose!

Common Pitfall: Posting photos older than six months. This will backfire on you one way or another, so keep your look current.

Hot Tip: Shoot for happy, relaxed, and naturally beautiful. Don’t forget to include a full body shot, too — show off all your curves!

The second thing you’ll need is a winning profile that showcases your unique personality.

Common Pitfall: Using too many adjectives like “happy”, “genuine”, “nurturing”, “loving”, etc. will just make you sound like everyone else.

Hot Tip: Instead of saying, “I’m Italian, sensitive, open-minded, open-hearted, love opera, and am moved by music”, you could tell a short story: “When I was a little girl and I didn’t know anything about anything, I was sitting at the family dinner table and I complained about opera. The next week, my Italian grandma dragged me down to the local opera house and I was moved to my core. This is how I learned to be open-minded and open-hearted about new experiences.” One story like that could be your entire profile — boom, there it is.

This stage has simple answers that are easy to arrive at and apply. Any dating coach worth a dime can tell you the myriad of do’s and don’ts for your dating profile.

2. Overwhelmed and excited.

Welcome to the next stage! You’re now swiping right, winking, liking, and favorite-ing, and there are oodles of promising people out there. Your inbox is swimming with potentials. You’re popular!

Common Pitfall: Being too accommodating in your correspondence. He said what to you? Do you have to respond to that? No, girl, you do not. Use your DELETE key.

Hot Tip: Create an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all that potential. Really. It sounds nerdy, and maybe it is, but you know what else? It’s useful.

This is the stage where you think you’ve got it handled.

3. Nervous and curious.

Is this the first date you’ve been on for a long time? Or, let’s be honest: Is it the first time you’ve ever dated someone who wasn’t at least a friend of a friend? You may be wondering:

  • Can I do this?
  • What do I wear?
  • What do I say?
  • What’s going to happen?
  • Am I ready?
  • Who picks up the check?
  • Who is this person?
  • What if they’re a nut?
  • What if they think I’m a nut?

Common Pitfall: Waiting to be ready. Don’t wait to date. Trust me: no one is ever 100 percent ready for this.

Hot Tip: Wear an outfit that makes you happy, talk about things in your life that you love, and ask him what gets him excited about his life. You’re just getting to know this new and interesting person, nothing more. Don’t micro-manage it.

4. Disappointed and discouraged.

You were hoping to get lucky and be “one and done.” You’ve been on a couple of first dates and knew from the first moment that this person wasn’t right for you, but when you departed, you were still hurt that he didn’t ask to see you again.

Or when you departed, you were relieved that he didn’t ask to see you again.

Or even though he wasn’t right for you, you were willing to see him again because hey, you’re dating and you are open to see if he grows on you. But he doesn’t.

Now, you have to go back online and meet more new people. Argh.

The thrill is gone: Going out on dates feels like just another task on your To-Do list and the drudgery of it makes you want to kick it down to the very bottom of your stack.

This stage is when you second-guess yourself and wonder why you’re feeling the way you do. You will also be hunting for the answer to the question, “Can’t I find a way to not have so many uncomfortable feelings at the end of a date?”

Common Pitfall: This is the stage where people give up. Don’t do it! Dating isn’t linear and there’s no science to predicting your timeline for success. One thing I know for sure is that you’ll find your love if you keep going, and you won’t if you quit. That’s the only simple part of this dance.

Hot Tip: Remember that, after a less-than-stellar date, you never have to have that exact experience again. It’s behind you.

5. Elation.

“I met someone! It finally happened! I have a boyfriend! Yay!”

You are probably feeling one of two ways about this development: “It’s so easy! Just like what other people have said. We just click. I feel so comfortable. He’s here!” or “Wow. This is happening so fast. I’m not sure if I can make this work. It’s nice to have a man in my life, but it’s also really intense. I’m not sure if he’s the one for me.”

This is the stage when you are flying high and don’t need anybody but your brand-new, super-sexy boyfriend, right? It’ll all work out, right? (Truth: Yes, it totally might. Or it might not. Both of these are actually okay.)

Common Pitfall: This is the stage where people settle. He’s in front of you, he seems great so far, there’s a couple of deal-breakers in there, but hey, beats being alone, and sure as hell is better than dating!

Hot Tip: Know what you need for a happy life, and keep those rose-colored glasses off your face and your eyes wide open. If your new dude’s not quite fulfilling your absolute musts, then maybe it’s time to keep looking.

6. Confused, frustrated, or lost.

  • “I like my boyfriend so much. I’m so afraid I’ll blow it.”
  • “I had a boyfriend, but now I don’t. What happened?”
  • “Why did they disappear?”
  • “Why wasn’t I given a chance?”
  • “What’s with all the mixed signals?”
  • “What am I doing wrong?”
  • “Why do they keep pulling away and then coming back?”

This stage is when you need answers now.

Common Pitfall: Believing this is your only chance at love or that love is elusive.

Hot Tip: Remember, if they’re the right person for you, they’ll stick around, communicate, see you and make themselves seen by you, and they’ll love you just as you are.

7. Ready to quit.

You put all that work into being good at dating, and now you feel like it’s never going to work out for you. You’re losing patience, confidence, faith, and your heart feels broken.

Common Pitfall: Believing you’ve lost your chance at love.

Hot Tip: Get loved up from a friend, or talk to a good dating coach. Someone who can listen compassionately, help mend your heartache, and show you the way to put this behind you so you can be magnetic to the right one for you.

8. Fear of hope.

At this stage, you’re afraid to get your hopes up because you’ve been disappointed and hurt. I mean, is a relationship really all that? Being single is starting to look pretty darned good at this point.

You don’t want to go through the pain of another letdown, and frankly, you’re getting a little tired of both the rejection and needing to reject the ones who aren’t for you.

This stage is full of big questions: “How can I trust that love really exists for me?” and “How do I open my heart and feel safe and secure to keep pursuing love?”

Common Pitfall: Turning off your profile, binging out on chocolate, getting another cat, and calling it a day.

(Special note: I do not think “single” is a bad choice. If you enjoy being single and you find it empowering to focus your energies outside of romantic and/or sexual partnership, then good on you! You rock your single life, my sister-friend! But for those of you who feel underutilized, unfulfilled and a deep longing for more from life when you’re not in a partnership, this is a pitfall and a mistake.)

Hot Tip: Have faith, and when you can’t, turn to people in your life who can keep the faith for you when you cannot. Get a dating buddy, a dating coach, or a family member to hold onto your vision, too, so that it’s not just you carrying that flag.

9. Confidence restored.

You muster up the courage to keep going and putting yourself out there and bam! Someone cute and promising flirts with you.

This stage is when you know the lay of the land, it’s not your first rodeo, and you know you can live through the disappointment and keep going anyway because you know to your core that you are in it to win it.

10. Your love arrives.

You didn’t know what to expect from this date, but oh yeah, it’s a pretty great one. It was easy, you felt seen, liked, and fun, and you can’t wait for more. And then more happens — again and again, and again.

Common Pitfall: You don’t believe it when it finally happens to you. Don’t let yourself sabotage a good thing just because it took a hell of a lot of work to get there.

Hot Tip: Don’t ever forget where you came from. The struggle is real, but you were strong enough for it — your success is the proof.

I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor.  Pick up my book, 121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!) here!

By Wendy Newman originally published on YourTango.com.

Three Weird Things That Make Men Fall In Love (And Stay In Love)

makes him want to stay

What makes him want to stay?

What makes men fall in love and stay in love is my jam. I’m obsessed. Seriously. I’ve spent the last 16 years researching the topic, and I’ve asked thousands of guys what sparked it for them.

Sometimes their answers are obvious, but my favorites are the ones that leave me picking my jaw up off the floor, like when one man said, “When we had sex in a moving vehicle that neither of us were driving.”

Or the time another said, “I fell in love with my wife on our third date. We were making out at a lookout point and eventually she had to pee. She said, ‘It’s okay, I’ll go in the bushes,’ and she did! No bathroom to find, no problem to solve, and we didn’t even have to leave the lookout point. I kinda loved her at that moment.”

When it comes to what makes men fall in love, as you would expect, sex often makes the top of the list (duh), but that’s not just a dude thing — that happens for us, too.

Cooking usually ranks much lower than we might expect, although, for the men who value culinary skills, it’s not a want so much as it is a need. (“How do you boil water again, honey?”)

How men fall in love and what makes them fall is often comprised of things we would never think to prioritize, if we ever thought of them at all.

Here are 3 kinda weird things that make men fall — and stay — in love:

1. The warmth of your happiness.

The phrases “No one’s happy unless mama’s happy” and “happy wife, happy life” didn’t just come out of nowhere. A man doesn’t marry or partner with a woman if he doesn’t think he can make her happy. They will leave, and when they do, they usually say something like, “You deserve to be with someone who can make you happy.”

Our happiness is a generous gift we can give if we’re feeling moved to express it.

I know a man who’d been unemployed for much longer than he was comfortable with. It was really taking a toll on him, and he was feeling pretty bad about himself. When his 20-year class reunion came up, he was hesitant to go because he was so embarrassed about where he was in his life.

His wife decided that, when she walked into that room on his arm, she’d be the happiest woman in the room. They had an incredible night, one that he’ll never forget; in fact, he told me this story a decade after his reunion. She lifted him up with her happiness and positive outlook.

2. How you get him.

You might think a man will fall in love with you once he knows what a bada*s you are. I mean, come on! You are the whole package: educated, funny, accomplished, worldly, and not bad looking, either, if you do say so. But it’s your mad listening skills that will take you from interesting to magnetic.

We can be pretty impressive when we’re sharing things about ourselves, and that’s important stuff, but if you really want to draw a man to you, listen. I mean really listen, as in give him your undivided attention.

Not the fake patience of waiting for him to stop talking so you can tell him that thing you’ve been holding in your head for the last eight minutes until it’s your turn to talk again; really be present and hear him out, and you’ll be one of the best conversationalists he’s ever had the privilege of talking with.

We all want to be seen, heard, and understood — listening fosters intimacy.

3. Your irresistible imperfections.

Wait, what? Yes! That gap tooth you never quite got around to getting fixed? It’s adorable. The way you pronounce the word “Worcestershire” or how your right breast points straight out while the left one points to the left? Sexy. And those things on your waist — they don’t call them “hate handles” now, do they?

Our “flaws” make us memorable and often even more lovable. Men see us and take us all in, and when they love us, they accept us — all of us — for exactly who and how we are.

Mark Darcy didn’t tell Bridget Jones that he liked her with slightly thinner thighs or perkier boobs, after all (who doesn’t remember Colin Firth smoldering, “I like you, very much. Just as you are” at Renée Zellweger?)

Embrace your imperfections. He will.

Despite the fact that I’d swear by the truth of these three things, I don’t want to sound like an article from Good Housekeeping circa 1951. I’m not dishing up a new standard to beat yourself up with when not at your happiest or not in a listening frame of mind, but rather point out to you the many natural gifts to which you already have access on your path to lasting love.

Use listening as the powerful tool that it is, remember to show and express your happiness when you feel it, and love the imperfections that make you uniquely you.

Above all, nurture the authentic expression of your essence, and watch as all kinds of men fall in different kinds of love with you: your lover, your children, your coworkers, and your friends.

I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor.  Pick up my book, 121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!) here!

By Wendy Newman originally published on YourTango.com

The Jealousy Hack That Creates Happy, Healthy, Passionate Relationships

woman green with jealousy

You don’t have to be such a slave to jealousy.

Jealous (adj.): Fearful or wary of losing one’s position or situation to someone else, especially in a sexual relationship. —American Heritage Dictionary

Jealous much? Don’t hide under that green hoodie—it’s easier to get a handle on than you think. Jealousy stirs within you because of love (or lust), but it’s the very thing that can kill these things, too.

Luckily, this jealously thing is fixable, but whatever you do, don’t look to the lessons you learned as a kid (or teen, or even adult) for the fix. Our society has a bizarre relationship with jealousy that has screwed us over royally, so we’ll need to do some unpacking first.

7 bizarre societal lessons you’re taught about jealousy that mess you up (that are total myths):

1. It’s something that just happens to you.

You have no control over it. It comes out of nowhere like a glitter bomb at a nightclub.

2. It means you care about or love someone.

In fact, if you’re not jealous, do you really love him? Not a jealous person?

Maybe it’s not really love, then.

Wildly jealous? They must be The One.

3. It’s what makes a relationship hot.

Seriously? Yikes.

Let’s pause here. When you were in grade school, you probably learned all kinds of lessons about pushing up against the boundaries of what’s acceptable. One thing you likely learned was that it’s not okay for friends to be jealous of each other’s time, possessions, and other friends.

So maybe you made a friend when you were younger. A good friend. You had lunch with her every day, played on the playground together at recess, and told each other everything. Friendship is awesome!

Then, one day, she decided to have lunch with a different friend, and you freaked out. (Or maybe you were the friend being freaked out on.) This lesson eventually taught you that yeah, it’s super-not-okay to try and monopolize another person’s time and affection.

That was a hard lesson, wasn’t it? Turns out friends are allowed to have other friends—end of story.

Even if you learned this important lesson about friendship when you were about six, you were probably taught that it’s normal, okay, and even desirable to be jealous of a lover or spouse. It’s okay to act out jealous feelings. It’s okay to try to control your partner because of those feelings.

As you grew up, you were also taught that feelings are not an excuse for inappropriate behavior.

Chances are that by the time you were old enough to buy beer, you knew that a person couldn’t say to a judge, “I’m really sorry I murdered those people with an axe. But I was really sad, okay? My mom just got diagnosed with cancer” and get off from a murder charge. That’s not how it works.

But we are taught this exact thing about jealousy. We even have a name for acting out our jealousy or other intense feelings (often, though not always, related to sex and/or relationships) to the extreme:

4. Jealousy inspires crimes of passion.

This kind of offense often gets a lighter sentence than premeditated crimes.

5. If you’re experiencing a negative feeling that you don’t want to experience, then it must be somebody else’s fault.

That’s right, you’re feeling what you’re feeling, but the blame lies 100% with someone else. And whoever caused that feeling in you is responsible for fixing it.

If you’re angry at something I did, then your anger must be my fault. If I’m angry at something you did, then my anger must be your fault. Sound about right to you? Which leads to…

6. The responsibility of you not being angry (or jealous) anymore is on someone else.

Wait…what? That’s right. That’s what society has taught us.

***

Are you ready for an update to this agenda? Are you ready to say, “Screw you, jealousy, I want something better!”

Good, me too. On that hopeful note, here are three grown-up life steps you can use to get on the path to overcoming jealousy and living a happy, fulfilled life.

Step 1: Own your own feelings.

When you feel angry, hurt, scared, or jealous, notice the emotion. Maybe it’s a response to something someone else has done or said, or maybe it’s not.

But consider this: it isn’t that person who has to fix it. They’re your feelings.

Your feelings are yours like your toenails are yours. It’s all part of the package that is you. And you wouldn’t want to disempower yourself by giving me that kind of sway over you, would you? I mean, what if the other person doesn’t want to fix your feelings?

Maybe the person is a narcissistic asshole who doesn’t care about you. And if they’re responsible for how you feel, that would be terrible for you, right? Your life is now one continuous experience of misery because they don’t feel like fixing how you feel.

If they’re not showing you the love, consideration, and compassion you need but they’re showing favoritism towards others, your job is to recognize this and then to say, “Oh, I’m jealous and hurt. That’s mine.” Only then can you address their behavior from a place of constructive emotion.

Step 2: Locate the root cause.

Ask,

“What’s that about for me?”

“Why do I feel hurt by that?”

“Why am I jealous over that?”

Maybe it has nothing to do with the other person. Or maybe it does. You won’t know until you stop and ask yourself these kinds of questions.

Step 3: Ask for help from a place of partnership.  

Try, “I’m trying to sort out some feelings I have. Would you be willing to help me with this?”

You might say, “Would you say these words to me, and mean them? ‘I love you, and you’re the most important person to me.’”

Now, if you asked the other person that, they could say, “No way. See ya!”

But as someone who loves you, they’re more likely to say, “Oh my God, of course, I’ll say those words, I’m so sorry if you’ve been feeling any other way.” They’ll probably also give you a ten-minute speech about what you mean to them, and how amazing they think you are.

People who love you want you to know you’re loved by them. That happens every day. But what’s not common is for hurt humans to handle jealousy in this way.

Saying, “Oh, I’m jealous and hurt — that’s mine” is not normal.

It’s not common for folks to say to themselves, “I own my own feelings.”

What’s typical and predictable is the rant, “I’m upset. Say you’re sorry because you hurt my feelings. Fix it.” We go on the defensive instead of looking for ways to own our experiences and find common ground with which to address problems.

Jealousy and the lack of accountability for it is an intimacy and relationship killer. It weakens your position in the relationship and it interferes with mutual trust and a willingness to be vulnerable with each other.

While you can’t cure jealousy, you can harness it. You can use it for a highly constructive purpose—as a valuable signal to look inside and repair your own sense of self.

Whether you’re dating or married, experiencing jealousy at work, competition with other women, if you want to know how to curb someone else’s jealousy, or just get better about figuring out your needs and setting boundaries, grab this 32-minute audio recording Overcoming Jealousy here.

By Wendy Newman originally published on YourTango.com

The #1 Game Over, Flaming Red Flag You Should Never Ignore On A Date

If he does this on a first date … don’t see him again!

“Consent” is a hot word right now. And it should be. I hope it’s here to stay. Because when a date does something against your explicit wishes, it’s game over, right?

But, I’ve noticed the “consent” conversation largely hovers around sexual consent only (and the trauma caused when consent is absent and sexual assault occurs). —

Yet, men often show you on the very first date whether they care (or not) about honoring your boundaries.

A 52-year-old woman I know shared this story: “I knew he wasn’t the guy for me two minutes after we sat down in the booth. He talked about himself incessantly, and he didn’t ask me a single thing about my life. When he offered a second drink, I said, ‘no.’ But when the server came, he said,’‘Two more, please.’ In total, he ordered six glasses of wine — three for him and three for me. I left that last one full, sitting on the table.”

The sad part is — the pressure to speak up and tell the server, “Excuse me, please bring just one,” was too great for this woman — a situation many of us surely relate to.

From a distance, it seems like one of those “duh!” no-brainer moments, yes? But, nearly every woman I know, from my clients to my friends, tells me one story after another each week that involves a cardinal dating sin: not speaking up for themselves. (And I’ve had plenty of moments when I’ve said nothing, as well.)

The pressure to “go along to get along,” not rock the boat and avoid displeasing the other person at all cost is the cultural training many of us received as little girls. It touches us to our core. Our inner self whispers, “Just get through this. Be nice.” Unfortunately, some people (let’s just call them what they are: jerks) count on this and are more than willing to take advantage.

It’s a true dating dilemma. One that’s even trickier to address when your boundaries are violated by a man you truly like. 

While writing this article, my phone rang for a coaching call with a client who filled me on a great date she had that, sadly, went awry.

“We have so much in common, and we have this uncanny rare connection!” Sandra said. “He’s attractive, charming, quick-witted, and he’s on the same par with me intellectually — finally. Except there’s one problem; he wanted to go a little further sexually than I was comfortable with this early on.

I told him I wasn’t ready for where he was taking us, but he pushed. When I called him on it, he deflected and didn’t own what he was doing. I decided to give him another chance because I saw real potential with him, and I can usually go with the flow. But he kept trying to take the date to places I just wasn’t ready for. Do you think it’s wrong of me to stop seeing him or should I give him another chance?”

(Once again, it’s alarming how difficult it is for so many women to say “no,” or speak up for themselves at all.)

So, how do you know which men are likely to violate consent boundaries?

Spotting a dangerous man when you don’t like him is easy. But noticing his negative traits gets a bit fuzzy when he’s hot, or smart, or funny, or charming, or, oh boy, all four. In these cases, I have a pro tip for you, sister:

No matter how “nice” he is if a man doesn’t honor you saying “no” on the little things  RUN!

Because, nice ass(ets) or no, he has just committed the #1 dating no-no! He may as well have said to you, “I care more about what I want than what you need.”

Of course, this behavior shows up differently from guy to guy. I put men like this in three categories:

1. The ‘Nice Guy:’ This guy would never intentionally push your comfort levels if he knew you wanted to bail, or that you need to slow things down.

2. The Sneaky Good Guy: This guy is basically a decent person who is heavily steeped in bad information. We cannot discount the huge impact our culture has on training young men to believe women “play hard to get,” and that, with any sign of waffling on her part, it’s perfectly OK to push her further. You know, because women “secretly want it.” (Oye, giant sigh!)

3. The Total Asshat: This jerk hears you say, “No, thank you”, loud and clear and orders you another drink anyway. Or sticks his hand where it isn’t welcome. Yeah — that guy. By disregarding your explicitly stated wishes, he’s practically slapping you across the face with that red flag.

Want to know how a man will treat you long-term?

On the very first date, clearly, articulate a need or boundary. (Yeah — it’s that easy.) How he responds to your boundary or request shows you how he’ll treat you now and in the future. If he doesn’t honor your “no” about the second glass of wine, he’s unlikely to honor your “no” sexually.

Drawing a line in the sand is never easy or fun. I know, I’ve failed epically at it dozens of times. But I got better at it with practice, and you can, too. Practice saying “no” and holding your boundaries with a close friend or in front of the full-length mirror.

Go ahead: try getting these words out with some grace and strength behind them:

  • “No.”
  • “No, thank you.”
  • “No, this is my last one.”
  • “No, thanks. We’re only here for drinks, not dinner.”
  • “No, I’m not available for that.”
  • “No, I’m not ready for this yet.”
  • “No, I’m not OK with you putting your hand there.”
  • “No, I won’t be staying.”

Seriously! … Practice this in your everyday life, as much as you can. I double-dog dare you, because when you need to use that “no,” to be fair to your date, you’ll want to state it clearly. And to be fair to you, you’ll want to mean it.

“No” might seem like, well, a negative word, but it’s actually one of the most powerful tools you have.

Being confident in your “no” shows others they can trust your “YES!”

I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor.  Pick up my book, 121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!) here!

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By Wendy Newman originally published on YourTango.com

A Valentines Double Dog Dare

Funky heart 200x300Did you know while Valentines was created to celebrate a saint, it’s first association with romantic love came along in 18th-century England? Yup, that’s long before Hallmark Cards ever made the scene (Jan. 1910).

In the 18th-century, Valentines became an occasion similar to what it is today — a day where lovers express love for each other by offering flowers, candy and yes, sending those sometimes adorable, sometimes sappy valentines day cards. In Europe, they weren’t rushing around trying to find a $$$ restaurant with a 7:30 spot on OpenTable.com. Instead, Saint Valentine’s keys were given out as a gift of love and as an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart.

Now, I’m down for going with convention when it serves me, but I always think convention should be questioned and thought through newly. I mean there might be a good reason for it, but that good reason in 18th-century England might not make sense in 21st-century America. So several yeas ago, and as a single person, I did just that. I thought about conventional Valentine’s day and  I redesigned it to suit my needs, I gave it a bit of an update. I found one concept worth keeping: an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart.

Every year I create Valentines newly. It’s the most flexible holiday in my calendar, it can mean anything I want it to as long as I use it as an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart — my heart. I mix it up, some years are big, other years are subtle, but they all have the same theme: Give love and invite yourself to unlock your heart.

I have a double-dog-dare challenge for you: Make this Valentines Day a day of gratitude, love, and giving. Skip the dozen red roses, they’re three times the price this week. Cards? You get to say. Will you make them or buy them? Will you vulnerably share your adoration, yearning or appreciation for someone(s) and sign your name or will you send the love notes anonymously? Will you love on your single friends? Will you take time to nurture yourself?

After I updated my relationship to this holiday I learned that celebrating single or coupled no longer matters. No more, “It will be better next year when I have someone” or “It will be better next year when I have a different someone.” This holiday is delicious now — as long as you’re willing to spread your love around and unlock your giving heart.

Happy Valentines Day! I love you — Wendy

I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor.  Pick up my book, 121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!) here!

The REAL Reason Women Who Try To ‘Have It All’ End Up With NOTHING

Stop the madness!

“I can bring home the bacon … Fry it up in a pan … And never let you forget you’re a man … Cuz I’m a woman!

The lyrics to that insidiously catchy 1980s Enjoli perfume jingle (and the brand’s slogan: “An 8-hour perfume for the 24-hour woman”) have stuck with me long after the scent faded.

By my early teens, I had already learned that, as a woman, I needed to go-go-go (I’m the 24-hour woman, right?) in order to “have it all.”

Success as a woman meant being a top-dollar breadwinner, a great cook, and a flawlessly sexy, attentive wife — all poured into a slinky cocktail dress that I’d wear while churning out award-winning articles with one hand and mouth-watering appetizers with the other. No pressure.

Growing up in the 70s, my single mother became the first policewoman in our state, and movies like “9 to 5” showcased empowered women challenging sexist bosses and breaking down the walls of the old boys clubs. We were bold, we were strong, and we were taking over — it was exhilarating.

But that powerful feeling of knowing that I could be or do anything shifted to thinking that Ishould have it all — or else.

The concepts of freedom, possibility, and choice suddenly started to feel overwhelming instead of inspiring. Our friends and family, the media, and society at large are constantly telling us we deserve this thing called “Having It All”.

“Of course you can have it all!” and “Don’t settle — you deserve everything!” are statements I’m sure most modern women have heard bandied around the sisterhood — well meant, sure, but packing a hell of a pressure-cooker punch, too.

For many of us today, success as a woman looks more like a day in the life of Michelle Obama. Impressive? Yep. Attainable and sustainable? Well…

You’re encouraged to pick a job that helps you make a difference in the world. But not just any job, mind you — you must “lean in” and aim for an influential CEO or CFO position, or maybe become a scrappy (but definitely successful) entrepreneur. You should also obtain at least one master’s degree from an Ivy League school (but a Ph.D. is even better!).

Meanwhile, stay in peak physical health and beauty at all times: strong, flexible, stylish, lean, and toned, and eat only healthy, organic foods.

While conquering the world (and looking effortlessly hot while doing so), it’s important to also be a fun, perfect wife and mother; effortlessly balancing the demands of your household and your business affairs. Of course, you’ll also have time to complete darling Pinterest crafts, give back to your community, and head off on multiple Instagram-worthy vacations each year (because #YOLO).

See what I mean about PRESSURE?

When we don’t measure up to these standards, most of us feel disappointed (like we’re failing) — and yet, we’re still out there trying anyway, and it’s killing us and ruining our relationships.

On the love life side of things, we expect a slightly stronger, taller, all-around better version of ourselves as our ideal partners. How tall are you in those 6-inch heels? Mr. Perfect must stand four inches taller than that. You’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Mr. Perfect must boast an even more impressive title, of course.

When we try to choose our mate based on the same impossible standards we often set for ourselves, the pool gets very small — think kiddy-sized.

This isn’t going to help you find or keep your ideal mate, just like that First-Lady list above probably won’t help you lead a life that’s fulfilling on an individual level.

However, none of this means you should settle for less than what you need or just give up looking when it comes to life and love.

Over the years, I’ve learned to define my “Having It All” list on my terms. I started by thinning my never-ending, impossible-to-complete-in-real-life to-do list. As I sat there frustrated and exhausted at the end of each day with 19 items still left, I asked myself, “If I can’t do it all, then what’s enough?”

“What’s enough?” is an awesome question. It applies to everything.

What’s enough exercise? What’s enough effort on this work project? What’s enough money?

When I was single and dating, I did the same thing. First, I made a list of the perfect man. I called it my Unicorn List, and it was 9-pages long. Then, the list was complete, I ran through it item by item to see what would shake out and stick in real life.

For example, “Would I rather be alone than being with a man who doesn’t think I’m beautiful?” The answer is I’d rather be alone so that one stayed.

“Would I rather be alone than be with a man who didn’t like the same music I liked?” Nope, that’s not as important (I have headphones), so I crossed it off.

This is how I identified my deal breakers. I got that monster list down to four pages, and this informed me about the man I was truly looking for.

Guess what? I found him.

“Having It All” is a tricky little sucker, whether in the boardroom or the bedroom.

It can creep in when no one’s looking and take a stranglehold on your life.

My advice is this: When you feel the almighty “Having It All” pressuring you, treat it as an opportunity to ask yourself, “What’s enough?”

When I do this, I shift from “I must have it all” to “I’m leading a happy life on my terms.” And isn’t that really what we’re all after?

I’m Wendy Newman, a media-celebrated author & trusted dating, sex & relationship advisor.  Pick up my book, 121 First Dates: How to Succeed at Online Dating, Fall in Love, and Live Happily Ever After (Really!) here!