Tag Archives: coaching

I received a question from a reader:

 

Dear Anita, I’m always single. I read advice online and my friends try to help me. What advice would you give me? I’d like to find love in 2015.

– Single in San Antonio

 

Dear Single,

 

I frequently get asked about my top tips to singles when they go on a date. Here are a few:

 

  1. Do be prepared for the date. Think of open-ended questions to ask your date, and brush up on current events. Although you don’t want to come across as interviewing your date, being prepared can help lessen anxiety and make you feel more at ease, which will help the conversation flow more naturally. Also, try to remember fun facts from their profile, any funny stories or places that they travelled to or any hobbies they have. This will help break the ice and build commonalities between you two.

 

  1. Don’t talk only about yourself. A date is a two-way street. Sure, you want to “sell” yourself, but your date also needs to know about you. Be aware of how often you talk about yourself and how many questions you ask your date. Showing interest can be a turn-on!

 

  1. Don’t dismiss your date too quickly. I’ve heard from many of my clients that they haven’t given someone a second chance because their date seemed “awkward” and “weird.” In reality, they seemed nervous. A first date can be an anxiety-provoking experience – give people a break! Sometimes people aren’t awkward, they’re just shy or socially anxious. It may take them another date to feel more confident and secure. If you’re attracted to them and had some fun, give them another chance.

 

  1. Don’t have a marathon date. Sure, it’s great to be having so much fun and chemistry that you want to have a 9-hour first date. Don’t do it. Leave room for mystery and leave your date wanting more.

 

  1. Don’t ask your date to accompany you to a big event in your life, like a wedding or other family event. This will freak them out! It’s too soon and puts too much pressure on your date. Wait until you’re exclusive for that kind of commitment.

 

  1. Don’t be intrusive. Asking your date how many people they’ve slept with or how much money they make is inappropriate. The first date should be about having fun and getting to know the basics. Keep things light. Feisty and healthy debate can come later in the relationship.

 

  1. Do make your date feel special, if you’re interested. Keep eye contact, smile, don’t check your phone, and don’t talk about exes. Keep your focus on the person in front of you and getting to know them better. Be appreciative and say “Thank you” if they pay for you. Be in the moment with your date.

 

  1. Don’t stalk them before the first date. Your view of your date can definitely be skewed if you “Google-stalk” them beforehand. If you check your date’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and like what you see, it can lead to the belief that your date “is perfect on paper.” You can then ignore or minimize red flags because of a pre-conceived idea of who your date is. Also, I find that people are too picky when it comes to dating. I’m constantly telling my single clients that they have to pick what they can live with, because they won’t get that perfect person. So if you Internet stalk a date beforehand, and find one thing you don’t like, you could be turned off and think, “This would never work.” In reality, what you found is only a small snapshot of your date. And if they were amazing in other important ways but you didn’t give them a chance, you could miss out on an opportunity for love.

 

One evening my boyfriend came over, and stopped at Chipotle on his way to bring me some dinner. He texted me to see what I wanted. My brief responses of “chicken taco” and “you know what I want” apparently didn’t help him too much, because he didn’t get my order right. I wondered, “How could he not know that I prefer corn over flour tortillas, and that I love sour cream with my Mexican food?!? We’ve been dating for almost 8 months!” When I asked him, he then threw down the gauntlet – “What do I like at Chipotle?” Without missing a beat I recited his usual order and he replied by putting his hands up in the air and saying, “Ok ok, you proved your point.”

 

I wasn’t upset with him that he didn’t know my order because, well…it’s something I’m highly aware of because of what I do for a living. As a relationship therapist, I work with my clients on the importance of increasing attentiveness to their partner and being attuned to what’s going on in their world. It’s what happy couples do since it increases feelings of closeness and security and it feels good knowing that your partner “gets you.”

 

And it goes beyond knowing your partner’s favorite foods. What are your partner’s current stressors? What do they worry about most? Who do they admire most? What are they sensitive about? How has their childhood and past relationships influenced who they are today? The more you know about your partner and vice versa, the deeper your friendship will get. A strong friendship is a necessary component to a lasting relationship – it’s a buffer against disconnection that plagues couples and is a leading cause of divorce.

 

The good news for you is that you don’t have to be a relationship therapist to turn this into a positive habit as well. Through practice it’s become second nature for me to file information that my boyfriend shares with me that I’ll use later to brighten his day, or show him how much he means to me. It’s not “work” for me, it’s a habit. Maintaining feelings of connection doesn’t happen automatically because you love each other. It takes effort and a conscious awareness of your partner and their world and then following through with actions, whether it’s planning a surprise, just listening or being present in the moment.

 

You can also strengthen your connection with your partner by sharing your opinion and being open. Sometimes people want to appease their partner or “go with the flow,” or don’t want to bring up hurtful past experiences, but you miss out on prime opportunities for your partner to learn more about you and use this information to strengthen your bond. For example, if you’re sensitive to feeling excluded because of a childhood experience and your partner is aware of this, they can make that extra effort to have you feel like you belong at parties or events by including you in conversations, introducing you to people and telling you how much it means to them that you came with them. These are small acts that can make a big difference.

 

The daily stuff matters, too. When your partner asks, “What’s wrong?” don’t say, “I’m fine” when you’re not. Again, you’re preventing the opportunity for your partner to know what’s going on in your life. Although my boyfriend didn’t know my Chipotle order to a T, he is very attuned to my emotional states. He can always tell when something bothers me or if I’m feeling “off,” and asks about it so that he knows what’s going on. It shows me that he not only pays attention, but that he cares about my well-being, so I make sure to open up to him. Talking to him about stressful things and having his support and understanding increases feelings of trust and safety for me. Talk with your partner about what it does for you.

 

The more details you know about each other, from the silly to the serious, the more likely you’ll make your relationship last.

 

And the next time my boyfriend brought over Chipotle, he didn’t forget the sour cream.

You finally met someone. You’ve had several email and text exchanges, and maybe you’ve even talked on the phone or had a date or two. You think this person is great, and you wonder if he could be “The One”?

The only problem is, you barely even know the guy.

Have you ever built a guy up in your head before actually meeting him or only after a few dates? I work with many women who get caught up in meeting someone new. They tell me how much they really like him and how they hope things will work out. If it won’t, they’ll be devastated and think they will never find love.

Whoa, let’s pump the brakes here.

When you first meet someone, sure it’s fun to be so excited at this new prospect, but you also have to keep a level head. If you put your date on a pedestal by idealizing them, you create a power imbalance. The possible consequences following this imbalance include you feeling more self-conscious, the need to prove yourself to him, and doing whatever it takes to win him over and get him to like you.

You’re also much more likely to miss red flags because you only see what you want to see – you want things to work so badly that you ignore or dismiss problems. And what if things don’t progress beyond the first few dates? If you’ve fantasized about a future together, you’ll be crushed, and your self-esteem can take a major hit.

One of the most common things I hear as a dating coach is, “What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t that person like me?” I know it can be hard, but don’t base your self-worth on what happens after that first date or first few dates. Your date is still a stranger to you. You don’t know this guy well enough yet to truly know why he stopped seeing you. There are so many variables (like timing, stress at work or an ex coming back into the picture) that affect dating that I encourage you not to take things personally.

And some of my clients are so focused on getting the guy to like them that they forget to ask themselves, “Do I even like him?” I’m not talking about experiencing feelings of infatuation, but can you truly name several qualities or values that you admire about your date? It’s simple to list common interests, but it’s easier on a long-term relationship when a couple shares similar values. It takes time to see how your date lives out his values; it’s not something you can fully know on just a date or two.

It takes time to get to know someone. If you’re dating for a long-term relationship, you want to take your time to determine if your guy is a good fit for you. Fantasizing about a relationship without even knowing him will leave you with more to lose than gain.