Sharks Aren’t Sexy

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March 27, 2014

According to the handy dandy calendar that each city has (I know in DC, I often look at  Gregslist), there are quite a few events coming up all around the country.  I have no doubt that many people reading this are planning to make an appearance at an event or two.  And if you’re not, it might be worth considering.

If you’re single, these events can not only serve to meet great people for work purposes, but they also may introduce you to some new love interests.  It’s important, though, when trying to meet people at these events, not to creep someone out when your real intention is to do just the opposite: turn that person on.

Here are a few examples of people not to be:

The Shark

This person “swims” around the event, talking to no one and silently stalking everyone.

The Tiger

This person waits silently until you take a breath in the middle of a conversation about your dog or take a swig of your Cabernet Sauvignon to pounce on you and go in for the kill, in the form of dominating your attention.

The Elephant

This person, oblivious to the surroundings and the discussion already in progress, will simply charge into the conversation, not worrying who or what is in his or her path.

The Lizard

Much like the shark, this person doesn’t talk to anyone all night.  Instead, he or she simply sticks to the wall, observing but not actually entering any conversations.

Let’s say someone catches your eye.  We’ll call her a 5’1 woman with wavy brown hair, green eyes, and freckles.  You really want to talk to her, but she’s engaged in a pretty in-depth conversation.  (You know this because her hands are flailing around.)  Rather than taking your social cues from Sea World or the zoo, your best bet is to simply be social with everyone.

If the brunette beauty is all the way across the room, it’s no big deal.  Simply chat with someone who looks interesting near you, male or female.  This gesture does two things: 1) Makes you look friendly and inclusive (and perhaps you might really enjoy the conversation) and 2) Warms you up before you get to talk to your new crush.  Before long, you will have made your way across the room without stalking, pouncing, charging, or cowering.  Instead, you will have been that nice, normal person who knows how to converse with anyone.  And when your time comes to talk with the target of your affection, you will have already talked to so many people that you won’t appear to be trying too hard.  This sounds much better than creepily watching her for two hours until she finally disengages from her conversation to use the restroom, doesn’t it?

As a side note, if you’re looking to end a conversation for some reason, don’t simply walk away when you’re done.  Politely say something like, “I see someone over there I want to say hi to.”  And assuming you’re taking this article’s advice, that “someone” could be anyone!

So relax, be social, have a great time, and when you’re ready to talk to someone of interest, act like you grew up in a normal household and not the zoo.

Have other ideas of how not to be?  Email with your thoughts.

No Catfish Tonight For Me

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catfishMarch 13, 2014

When people hear the term “online dating,” they don’t always know what it means. Here’s what it doesn’t mean:

  • Having a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Dating in your pajamas for the rest of eternity while eating a pint of Chunky Monkey
  • Sitting behind your computer and assuming that you just had a “hot date”

In many ways, “online dating” is a misnomer. It could instead be called “online introductions” because the actual “dating” part should still be in person. Period.

It’s easy to fall in love with someone’s online dating profile, isn’t it? In fact, a client who lives in MD just told me recently that she “really likes everything about” this guy in NY based on his JDate profile. I reminded her that this person is not real until she’s had a face-to-face interaction with him. It’s just words on a page and a picture until then.

People join online dating sites for many reasons: To find an activity partner, a friend, a date, a one-night stand, a long-term relationship, or marriage. All it takes is the click of a button to list what we’d like to find in our online dating adventure. Curiously enough, “pen pal” is not an option. Why? Because people do not join online dating sites to simply email back and forth with no end in sight. People are looking to form a real relationship, not an “e-lationship.”

It’s not too forward to ask someone out for a drink or coffee after one or two emails back and forth. (And I generally recommend that the guy does the asking.) If a woman responds to your email or reaches out to you on her own (which I strongly encourage women to do), she’s probably interested enough to meet in person.

Of course, some people don’t know when it’s appropriate to move from the email to the date and err on the side of caution (aka waiting too long), so in this case, I recommend saying something like, “I’m really enjoying these emails. Should we meet for a drink next week? I’m free Monday or Wednesday if either works for you.” If they take the bait or suggest a different day, then that’s great! If the answer is simply no (or there’s no answer), then it’s time to move on. If someone is perpetually busy, either he or she is secretly the President of the Universe or is trying to get out of meeting in person for some reason. Don’t dwell on it. It wasn’t meant to be.

If meeting in person is not feasible for some reason (perhaps you don’t live close enough to meet in a timely fashion), then the best thing to do is to suggest that you Skype or FaceTime. It takes just as long to dial someone’s number and chat for a few minutes as it does to sit down and email each other, so if someone declines this offer, that is a major red flag.

My advice? Meet offline as soon as you can. If you like each other, you’ll be glad you didn’t waste all that time emailing. And if you don’t, you can move on and also be glad you didn’t waste all that time emailing. Win-win! Don’t be the next story on Catfish: The TV Show.

Tips for Dating Bliss in 2014

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January 21, 2014

Time sure does fly, doesn’t it?  It’s a new year, and with that comes a new outlook, maybe some new clothes, and, of course, some new people on all of the online dating sites.  (And don’t forget about all of the new single people after the turkey drop and holiday season break-ups.)


As we enter a new year of dating, with first dates abounding, it’s important to remember some helpful tips for achieving dating bliss in 2014:

1. Remain optimistic.

Have you ever been on a date where your date walks in, and he or she just looks miserable?  Or maybe you were the one on your fourth online date in a week, and you’re just jaded by the whole process.  That aura of negativity really sucks the life out of a date.  If you’re not ready to be dating, say after a break-up, that’s A-ok.  But when you are ready, it’s best to go in with a smile.

2.  Focus on the big picture, not the small stuff.

Your date tells you that he’s into some obscure indie band that you heard once and hated.  Is your potential relationship doomed?  Of course not, but sadly, a lot of people take tastes and hobbies more into account than what’s really important – values.  I’d rather know whether someone is close to his family than whether he reads only historical fiction.  It’s obviously nice to have hobbies in common (though I’m glad no one I ever dated played Mahjong like I do!), but in the end, small differences in tastes likely don’t amount to the demise of a relationship.

3. Ask questions.

No one wants to go on a date where one person is talking the entire time.  In order to encourage a healthy back-and-forth, the best thing you can do is to ask your date some questions.  (Hopefully he or she will do the same in return and not take that as a cue to ramble on for an hour straight!)  The questions that have the most luck require more than a simple one-word answer.  You want to get the person thinking.  For example, rather than asking, “What do you do?” (perhaps the most boring question in the book), you could ask, “What made you decide to get into medicine?” or “How do you enjoy your job as a pediatrician?  I imagine it must be very rewarding.”  The first question allows your date to simply say, “I’m a doctor,” but the other two require a bit of introspection, leading to a more thoughtful conversation… and perhaps a second date.

4. Have confidence.

A little confidence goes a long way.  Be decisive, be proud of who you are, have the courage of your convictions, and tell someone how you feel.  These pointers can carry over into other aspects of life as well.  Sometimes you have to talk the talk and walk the walk of confidence for a while, but eventually it’ll catch up to you.

So go out there and have some fun in 2014, and remember these pointers to give your dating life a boost. 

‘Tis the Season… For Online Dating

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December 18, 2013

Ah, December… the time for lighting the menorah (thanks to Thanksgivukkah, that was in November as well), getting trampled at Best Buy and Target, finding the house with the gaudiest Christmas lights, and, of course, wondering whether you’re going to have a date for New Year’s Eve this year.

People ask me all the time, “Is there a best time of year to do online dating?” In short, the answer is no. I’d first say that the best time for you to do online dating is when you’re emotionally ready for it. Online dating does take work, so make sure you know what it entails. Online dating is not simply about writing a few lines as fast as you can and posting it to see who writes to you. It’s about being creative, proactive, and patient. Once you’ve crossed that emotional threshold and you’re ready to take the online dating plunge, there is one time of year that it may suit you well to log on: the week between Christmas and New Year’s. And then ride that wave all the way through Valentine’s Day.Holiday Love’s relationship expert, Whitney Casey, when asked in December 2011 how the numbers stack up, said, “From December 26 to February 14 is our busiest season. New Year’s Eve is such a big deal because it’s a new beginning.” also reported a 15% jump in signups, in addition to a 20% spike in activity from current users during that time period. Lastly,’s Community Manager, Rachel, says the holidays are the perfect time to get online and get excited about meeting someone new. “This is definitely one of our busiest times of the year and that’s simply because the festive fun of the holiday season often reminds singles there is nothing better than being around those we love… including romantic relationships! Plus, we often see a big bump in membership numbers with so many people adding ‘find love’ to their New Year’s resolutions!”

As we all probably know, some of the top New Year’s resolutions out there are to work out and find love (in addition to saving money, spending more time with family, volunteering, staying organized, and reading more, to name a few). In order to find love, though, you have to do something about it, and that something, according to the statistics, is to look for love online. And when you do, make sure you’re putting your best foot forward with flattering, accurate pictures, a profile that truly represents you without sounding too generic (“I love to laugh and have fun” will sadly not make the cut), and a positive attitude about what the future might hold.

Maybe this year is the year to find love and maybe it’s not, but for what it’s worth, signing up with a brand spankin’ new profile on December 26th isn’t a bad idea. At least you know you’ll be in good company.

Let’s Give Thanks To… Technology?

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November 25, 2013

Every Thanksgiving, my family has a tradition (as I’m sure many do) of going around the table and listing what we’re thankful for this year. I couldn’t ask for a more poignant way to show my thanks.

Turkey PhoneThis year, of course I am thankful for my parents, sister, and friends, all of whom have supported me through thick and thin, even when I told them that I was quitting my job in economics almost three years ago to start my own business. (Although, my parents were a lot more supportive after they learned that I had bought myself health insurance!) But this year, I am thankful for something else as well – technology. In this day and age, we can do almost anything with technology: read a book without flipping a single page, text a friend to let him know we’re running late, look at all of our ex’s Facebook pictures (wait a minute… that’s not advised!), and even find a date.

In our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, it wasn’t quite as simple as:
1) Sign up for an online dating site.
2) Email some people.
3) Meet for a drink.

My parents were next-door neighbors. My mom was a teacher, and my dad was home from law school for the summer. (My mom is five and a half years older than my dad!) She always saw this guy next door looking out the upstairs window while studying and wondered who he was. One day, my dad’s brother said hello as she came out of her apartment. She asked who he was, and he told her that he lived next door. She said, “No – that other guy lives next door,” and my uncle informed her that he was the “other guy’s” brother. My mom, chutzpah and all, then said, “I don’t normally do things like this, but would you and your brother like to come with my friend and me to a concert tonight?” The whole night, my mom didn’t know who she was supposed to be with – my uncle or my dad. At the end of the night, my uncle said to my mom, “I’ll call you.” Scandal of all scandals, my dad beat him to the punch and called my mom first. (It was all good. My uncle was only in town visiting.) And the rest is history. They celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary this year.

Let’s compare that to our experiences today. We sign up for an online dating site. We email people who interest us. (I do advise that both men and women make the initial contact.) We go out for coffee or a drink (avoid dinner on the first date), and we decide if we want to let a relationship form. Easy as pumpkin pie.

So this Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for my wonderful friends and family, my health, the success of my business and my clients’ relationships, I am also thankful for the technology we have that allows us to meet the person of our dreams, one click at a time.

Talk the Talk & Walk the Walk

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October 22, 2013

I still remember that in high school, when the entire calculus class looked clueless about the necessity of integrals in our lives, our teacher, Mr. Opre, told us to “talk the talk and walk the walk” until we started to actually understand how this newfangled way of calculating the area actually worked. At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about, but what he meant was that we needed to go through the motions (as in, just follow the mathematical steps) until it started to feel like we actually knew what we were doing. And slowly but surely, his advice worked, and I was calculating the area under a curve like it was my calling in life. (Don’t ask me to calculate one today, though!)

What does all of this have to do with dating? Some of us are jaded by the dating process, and some of us are feeling insecure about getting back out there. Some of us may feel like we lost a sense of ourselves in our last relationship, so we need to get back into the things we love to do… but what were they? If anything here hits pretty close to home, then I’m going to give the same advice that the wise Mr. Opre once gave: Talk the talk and walk the walk. Eventually, things will start to catch up with you.

There was an article in Scientific American in 2011 called, “Smile! It Could Make You Happier.” Doesn’t this seem counterintuitive? Don’t you smile because you feel happy, and not the other way around? Maybe not. Psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people whose ability to frown is diminished by cosmetic botox injections are happier, on average, than people who can frown. The researchers gave a questionnaire to 25 women, half of whom had received frown-inhibiting botox injections. The botox recipients reported feeling happier; more importantly, they did not report feeling any more attractive, suggesting that the emotional effects were not driven by a psychological boost that could come from the treatment’s cosmetic nature.
Confidence is key.
So, if smiling can make you happier, can talking the talk and walking the walk make you more confident in your dating life? I’d venture to say yes. Most things in life are all about framing. Let’s say someone asks, “What do you like to do for fun?” You have two options: You could look down on yourself, saying something like, “Oh, I don’t know. I guess I like to do my daily crossword puzzle and play Words with Friends. That’s about all.” Or, you could own it and talk the talk of confidence, even if you’re not feeling it quite yet. “I’m trying to get into some new activities, but for now, I’ve rediscovered my love for crossword puzzles and word games. I love challenging my brain!” Which person would you rather date?

If you feel jaded or insecure, when you get to that date, it’s important that you exude some level of confidence. Rather than the person across the table thinking, “Ugh – she really doesn’t think very highly of herself,” or, “She must have been on one too many bad dates recently,” he’ll instead think, “Wow – I can’t believe she made time for me tonight!”

So, talk the talk, walk the walk, and calculate some integrals. (Ok, that last one is optional.) Thanks, Mr. Opre!

Got burning questions you’d like answered in a future post?

Living Conversation to Conversation

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September 4, 2013

Ways to communicate
Isn’t it exciting when you meet someone and finally feel that long sought-after connection that you were beginning to think was rarer than an eclipse? The first date went really well. There’s no question about that. But after the first date, we start to question ourselves. Did she think it went as well as I thought it did? Did he just laugh at my cheesy pun about Miley Cyrus just to be nice? Did she only order that second glass of Malbec to help take the edge off of the painfully awkward silences?

There’s only one cure to these concerns, and it’s not a therapist… it’s communication.

I remember back in the day, I went out with a guy I really liked who we’ll call Matt. We had a few good dates, but when I left each one, I was always unclear about where I stood. I even remember leaving him a voicemail after about the third date and kicking myself afterwards for being too long-winded and rambling about nothing. Did I even say my name in the message? What if Matt thought, “How can I date a girl who can’t even leave a coherent voicemail?” And the kicker was that I didn’t hear from him for a day or two after I had left the message. I had already talked myself out of the relationship when he finally called back and, lo and behold, asked me out again. It was a vicious cycle of living conversation to conversation and always being on edge until the next time we talked.

Now picture this instead: You go on a great first date. You grab a few drinks. You have a great connection. There is no way this will not lead to a second date. And before you even have time to over-analyze the situation, you have an e-mail in your inbox (or a voicemail on your phone) the next day saying what a great time your date had, ending with the question of when you’re free to go out again. And so you continue, date after date, communicating and setting up the next date and the next. You have no reason to worry, and that’s how it should be. As my mom always used to tell me, “Erika, when someone likes you, you’ll know.”

Living conversation to conversation, getting stressed and then put at ease, worried and then relieved, is no way to live. When someone likes you, there are no guessing games. Well, there may be some, but they are the fun ones, like, “Where did you pick for us to go to dinner tonight?” As we get older and more mature, playing hard-to-get becomes over-rated. What’s the big deal if you let someone know you like him or her? Nothing! And if you don’t, please be so kind as to let the other person know so the soon-to-be disappointed party doesn’t have to go through the ups and downs that living conversation to conversation causes.

Got burning questions you’d like answered in a future post?

“Paws” Before Posting: Curb Your Desire to Hide Deal Breakers

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August 5, 2013

About three months ago, I went to adopt a dog. This was a big step for me since, as a young girl, I was bitten by my neighbor’s dog (and still have the scar to prove it). So, after months of petting dogs to get comfortable and reading “Dogs for Dummies” so I would have somewhat of a clue after the pup joined the Ettin clan, I was ready to bite the bullet and adopt a pooch. I searched the list and fell in love with little Bashful’s pictures. She was just so darn cute! I read her bio, and she seemed to have everything I was looking for – the right size, a good age, and that nice, brown, low-shedding fur that I like.

On that Sunday morning, I went to the adoption event, pages of notes in hand so I would know what to buy at the pet store once little Bashful was mine. (I’m an obsessive note-taker.) When I got there, she was just as cute as her photos… maybe even more so. And she was sweet, walking right up to me and sitting in my lap. What more could I want?

So, I was told to buy a collar while they got the paperwork ready. I opted to sit with her for another few minutes, saying things like, “I’m gonna be your puppy mommy.” (I’m also a total sap.) As the forms were coming my way, and I was really starting to bond with my new friend, a supervisor came over to me and said (while Bashful was still in my lap, mind you), “So, we decided that we’re not going to let you adopt this dog. She can only go to a home with other dogs. And by the way, she can’t live in the city, either.” Had any of that that been in her bio? No. Had they told me that before I started to get excited and bond with her? No. Would I have even chosen her had I known this was the case? Of course not. So I left, feeling sad that I was not getting the new best friend I wanted, and deceived that something so important (a deal breaker, if you will) had not been stated upfront.

As I walked away, I thought to myself that the situation sounded oddly related to online dating. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where a profile says exactly what we want it to. We meet our date and everything seems to be going fine until…

BAM! – Your date tells you he doesn’t want children.
BAM! – She’s really just separated and not divorced.
BAM! – She has four kids but she only listed one.
BAM! – He said he’s Jewish but he’s not practicing and doesn’t care about his partner’s religious affiliation, yet when I ordered pork lo mein, it looked like he was going to have a heart attack.

In online dating, it’s so important that your deal breakers are out there front and center. If you don’t want children, that’s fine! Just make sure you check that box off in your profile. If you’re extremely religious, that’s fine, too! Don’t underplay that simply to get more dates. The last thing you want is for someone to go out with you only to be disappointed because you didn’t disclose something really important in your profile. So don’t be bashful. Be true to yourself. You may go on fewer dates, but your dates will want you for you rather than for the person who is trying to appeal to everyone simply by not sharing the truth.

And this goes for searching, too. As hard as it may be, try not to fall in love with someone’s pictures and profile (just words on a page) before meeting in person. I kept that in mind as I continued to search for a pet. I wanted a dog who loved me for me – living in an apartment in downtown DC, having no other pets (besides Sir Quackers, my childhood stuffed duck), and just wanting to show him/her love and affection. With that in mind, I have since rescued a different dog, Scruffy, from the same agency, and I could not be happier with him!ScruffyScruffy2

Obstacles to the First Date

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July 2, 2013

We all know what an obstacle is. According to our good friends Merriam and Webster, an obstacle is, “something that impedes progress or achievement.” Now, what if that “something” is you?

In dating, there are so many potential obstacles to that first date:
1. Emailing someone online
2. Talking on the phone (I actually never recommend this… article coming on the topic soon.)
3. Text messaging before the date

Each of these obstacles listed above is a potential rejection point for your date to decide not to go out with you (and vice versa). I know I’m a former economist and all, but you don’t need to be a math whiz to know that by removing one of these potential rejection points, the probability of actually getting to the date is greater.

Let’s look at a few scenarios below:

At each point, the date is presumed to have messed up in some way, but there may be an explanation for it. For Endless Emailer Ethan, perhaps he just doesn’t know how online dating works. Give him the benefit of the doubt and (gasp!) even suggest meeting him. For Chatty Cathy on the phone, perhaps she just talks too much when she gets nervous, but as she gets to know you, she calms down a bit and actually breathes between talking about her precious cockatoo and her trip to Finland last year. And for Texting Timmy, maybe he’s just plain excited to go out with a great catch like you. It’s better than the alternative – not contacting you at all. Simply saying, “I’m not really a huge texter,” should do the trick.

Do Ethan, Cathy, and Timmy hit a bit close to home? Or maybe you’ve dismissed one of them in your dating days. My advice? Remove the obstacles to the first date. You never know if you’ll have chemistry until you meet in person, so don’t get in your own way by setting up all of these rejection points. A couple of emails back and forth should be plenty, and then get right to the date. As a client just emailed me recently, “What came across in emails was not there in person. I guess that happens quite a bit and the more experience I get at this, the sooner I will try to get to a meeting so I don’t have to [spend] my time emailing.” Obviously, this can go either way – better in person or worse – but you have to actually meet to find out.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

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Frustration at its finest

June 4, 2013

We’ve all heard the expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” In general, things that are worth it take time. So why does everyone think that Mr. or Ms. Charming will simply come knocking on your door at exactly the moment you’re looking for someone? It’s true that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the process of finding the right partner. Many people sign up for an online dating site or go to a speed-dating event expecting to find their “one and only” simply by signing up or logging in. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, and it will take some time. As with most things in life that you want badly enough, you’ll have to put some work into it. But don’t worry – all of the effort isn’t for naught.

Want to know how to put the effort to good use? Read the rest of this article on And take a peek at their 10 best dating websites for 2013!