Tag Archives: dating

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.

Have you ever had – what you considered – a great date, and then you never heard from the guy again? Then you start thinking about everything that you said, how you “blew it,” what you did to scare him away and so on. You may even reach out to your friends, divulging every detail of your date to see if they could pinpoint where you went wrong?

 

Stop it.

 

Ladies, some of you care and overanalyze waaaaay too much about one little date. Not only do you examine every interaction and second-guess your behavior, but then you become your own worst enemy and critic. Instead of thinking that there might be something off with the guy, you look at yourself and just pile on blame and self-loathing. You take things too personally.

 

I coach a lot of smart and successful women. Whether they’re in their 20s, 30s or 40s, if they’re single, the goal I always hear is: “Anita, I want you to find out what’s wrong with me.” You look inwardly and put yourselves down instead of looking outwardly at the guy or the situation. Maybe the guy just wants to date around so the timing is off, he’s been through a recent breakup or he just started a new job that is very demanding. Or maybe he’s super picky and judgmental and no one would be good enough for him! Who knows? Sometimes you won’t get closure about why someone cut contact and didn’t ask you out again. You can either beat yourself up over nothing or just let it go and move on, keeping your self-esteem intact.

 

That’s not to say that a little reflection after a date can’t be good. Maybe you shouldn’t have been 45 minutes late to your date or had two more cocktails than you planned on having. But dissecting every little detail is pointless, exhausting and won’t lead to happiness – or a relationship.

 

There are several risks to these self put-downs. You may start doubting your own likability, so when you meet someone who shows you any interest, you latch on because you think he’s you’re only chance at love. Or conversely, you can make assumptions and create a problem that doesn’t actually exist. You can stop a budding romance just because of your worry! You can also suck the fun out of dating. The next guy you go out with, instead of having fun with him, you’re going to be too worried about what you say or do to not scare him off. You may come across as stiff and awkward and then boom! You have just created a self-fulfilling prophecy because the guy won’t ask you out again. But he’s not rejecting the real you, just the over-analytical you.

 

If you’re prone to over-analysis, try keeping a few men in your dating portfolio. It’ll help to avoid focusing on the details of one date. Also, if you don’t hear from a guy, challenge yourself to think of reasons that have nothing to do with you. What he does or does not do is not a direct reflection off of you! And don’t forget, there’s nothing wrong with you. Really.

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.

Ok ladies, ‘fess up. Have you been on a great date with a nice guy but he just didn’t do anything for you emotionally? He called when he said he would, confirmed plans, was a gentleman…but nothing in the feelings department. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

 

So you dump the nice guy and move on. You meet someone else, but this new guy gives you mixed signals. He calls, but takes his time doing so. He shows you that he’s interested in you, but you’re not exclusive since he’s still playing the field. You start to doubt his attraction to you, and you wonder if your relationship is even going anywhere.

 

But then he takes you on a date or compliments you, and you get butterflies. Your heart races and you’re happy, telling yourself that he’s interested and there’s a chance at a future together after all. But these feelings don’t last very long. He pulls back, he’s unpredictable with contact, but gives you just enough attention to keep you hooked. You may think, “If he just sees how awesome I am, he’ll want to be with me.” The uncertainty keeps you thinking about the guy all of the time, and your mood fluctuates based on whether you’ve heard from him or if he’s given you attention. You feel like you overanalyze everything.

 

If you’ve been on this emotional roller coaster often, chances are that you’ve mistaken your anxiety and uncertainty about the relationship as butterflies and chemistry (or for some, even love). This can be risky because you may be with a partner who’s not well suited for you. If you have a lot of anxiety, feeling calm with your date (like with a nice guy) may not be a bad thing. You seek closeness, want to be reassured and to know where you stand in a relationship. You may think you’re needy or clingy for wanting intimacy and reassurance, but in fact these are healthy for a relationship.

 

Intimacy and connection happen in a lot of ways, but one of them is by being vulnerable with our partner. In order to be able to share your hopes and dreams and fears openly, you need to feel secure with your partner. A nice guy who is consistent with his attention to you is much more likely to create and provide this security than the guys who leave you guessing about their interest in you.

 

As you date, pay attention if you find yourself feeling insecure and analyzing your date’s every action, and feeling bliss every once in awhile. Be aware that this may be your anxiety acting up because of his inconsistent actions, and not chemistry or passion.

 

So give the nice guy a chance, and you may get what you’re looking for and need to have a happy and fulfilling relationship.

 

If only it was as simple as putting “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” on your list to Santa. How cool would it be if he or she actually came wrapped in a red bow? From commercials to songs to couples walking hand in hand seemingly everywhere you look, ‘tis the season for romance. But what if you don’t have a significant other? You can still make it the most wonderful time of the year.

 

Embrace it. If you’re sad about being single during the holidays or dealing with a breakup, it’s ok. You can’t always push away feelings so don’t fight them. Sometimes giving more energy to the fight makes things worse. Set aside time to be sad, even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes a day, and don’t criticize yourself for feeling down.

 

Say yes! Novelty and variety can cheer you up, so even just meeting someone new or doing something different can put you in a better mood. You might prefer to stay in and lounge on your couch, but say yes to invitations that come your way – or take the initiative and see what’s going on around town! There’s no excuse with so many opportunities this season: office and ugly sweater parties, citywide events, zoo lights, holiday concerts, etc. And you already have built-in conversation starters: What are you doing for the holidays? Do you have any traditions? What is your favorite holiday memory?

 

Spread holiday cheer. Sometimes the best gift you can give is yourself. Volunteer for a cause that you believe in, or go caroling around your neighborhood or nursing home. Visit a family member or friend who is going through a tough time. Selfless activities can boost your self-esteem, so giving of yourself is a win-win.

 

Take advantage. When you’re out and about, take advantage of meeting new people! Maybe there’s someone who catches your eye while you’re shopping for presents or at a holiday concert. Make eye contact and smile! Again, the opportunities for conversation starters are endless: ask their opinion about the gift you’re thinking of buying, or ask them their favorite holiday song. Nervous? That can be a good thing – even just doing something that gets your heart pumping can elevate your mood.

 

Do your own thing. Have you ever said, “I’ll do X once I meet someone?” Don’t wait! Do what you love now. Start a tradition that you can do solo or when you’re in a relationship. Throw a dinner party with your fabulous friends or take a trip to a place you’ve always wanted to go. Whether big or small, carpe diem!

 

Be your own Santa. If you’re like my clients, you probably take care of others before yourself. Take the holidays for some self-care or treat yourself to a meaningful gift or experience. It’s a great reminder to be aware of your own needs, what’s been missing in your life, and that it’s ok to put yourself first sometimes.

 

Celebrate you. What’s amazing about you? What have you overcome? Think of all of your accomplishments this past year. Write out all that you have done and completed in the past 12 months and then celebrate. Appreciate what you have achieved. It’s important to recognize your worth whether you’re single or in a relationship.

 

And if all else fails, just carry around some mistletoe.