Top Five Reasons to be Thankful in Dating

TurkeyNovember 25, 2015

As Thanksgiving is upon us, it’s time to put aside our pride and simply be thankful for the blessings we have in life: our health, our family… and Tinder?

In this day and age, we can do just about anything with technology: read a book without flipping a single page, have groceries delivered with the click of a button, see our friends on the other side of the world on our screens, look at all of our ex’s Facebook pictures (wait a minute… don’t do that!), and even find a date.

As Aziz Ansari noted in his recent book “Modern Romance,” a 1932 study showed that one-third of married couples had previously lived within just a five-block radius of each other.  Case in point: My parents were next-door neighbors, and they celebrated their 35th anniversary this year.

Let’s compare that to my own dating experiences.  I sign up for a dating site like OkCupid.  I email a number of people.  Some respond, some don’t.  I line up dates with those who do.  The end.  Quite a different story, huh?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for my wonderful friends and family, my health, and the success of my business and my clients’ relationships, I’d also like to share five reasons we should be thankful this year, as it relates to dating:

  1. Online dating exists.

Do you think the Pilgrims had a way to meet people across the Mayflower, let alone across the world?  Their best place to flirt was likely over the ear of corn they were growing, not on their couch in their pajamas using some new-fangled technology we like to call the Interwebs.  Now it’s easy as pumpkin pie.

  1. We have options.

We live in a time when, for most of us, the choice of the person we date and/or marry is ours and ours alone.  Of course, parents have some influence in this decision, as do friends, but you ultimately get to choose the person who makes you the happiest.  Arranged marriages were the norm worldwide until the 18th century.  I feel lucky to live in this day and age.

  1. Interracial, interfaith, and same-sex couples are more widely accepted.

study published in November of 2013 by Kevin Lewis, a UC San Diego sociologist, suggests that racial barriers to romance are not as insurmountable as we might suppose.  He did his research by analyzing the patterns of 126,134 OKCupid users in a two-and-a-half month period.  He found that, while people often still mainly reach out to others of their own racial background, they are, however, more likely to return a cross-race email than previous research would have led to us to expect.  And, once they have replied to a suitor from a different race, people are then themselves more likely to cross racial lines and initiate interracial contact in the future.  OkCupid also now has so many additional choices for sexual orientation, ranging from sapiosexual (someone who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature… guilty as charged) to homoflexible.  We’ve come such a long way… the rest is just gravy at this point.

  1. There is more gender equality, especially with online dating.

While I am still a proponent of chivalry when it comes to opening doors and paying on a first date, I also strongly encourage women to reach out first online with a short and sweet message if someone strikes their fancy.

  1. Dating can be fun!

I know it’s sometimes exhausting after a long day of work to motivate yourself to meet someone new, especially when you just want to be a couch (mashed?) potato.  But, it’s also exciting to think that someone you meet—maybe the next date—could alter the rest of your life in some way.  Maybe you’ll get butterflies, maybe you’ll learn a new recipe, or maybe you’ll simply hone your conversation skills.  Regardless of the outcome, take advantage of the fact that you get to meet new and interesting people.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!  Happy dating!


In Online Dating, Grammar Matters

October 28, 2015grammar

I once bought a shirt that says, “I judge you when you use poor grammar.”  (I only wear it to sleep.)

My aunt told me that I corrected her when she said, “Me and mom went to the store.”  I was three at the time.

I get annoyed when people don’t end their sentences—in text or email—with a period or whatever punctuation should go there.

One could say that I’m a grammar snob.  I’m going to go ahead and call myself a “grammarist.”  (Still trying to get my definition into Urban Dictionary!)  Whereas I used to read things for content—novels, emails, the newspaper—now I feel like I read things solely with the mission of finding the mistakes.  And, sadly, I usually succeed.  Having gone through the book publishing process, I know how hard proofreading can be, but if you write a New York Times bestselling book, I expect a superior level of editing.  (I’m talking about you, Fifty Shades of Grey.  If I had to see one more comma splice…)

As I write this, I think to myself a few things: Am I an elitist?  Am I the only one who uses proper grammar as a proxy for intelligence and/or work ethic?  Are other people also upset by the fact that now correct usage gives someone bonus points when it used to be the baseline?  As it turns out, I’m not.

According to an article earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal called What’s Really Hot on Dating Sites?  Proper Grammar, grammar is one of the top factors used in choosing a date from an online dating site.  The dating site surveyed some 5,000 singles in the US and found that, besides personal hygiene (which 96% of women valued most, compared with 91% of men), they judged a date foremost by the person’s grammar.  88% of women and 75% of men surveyed said they cared about grammar most, putting it ahead of a person’s confidence and teeth.  I was shocked by this… in a pleasant way!  (Though I still prefer that my dates have all of their teeth.)

Most people think that writing an online dating profile is a one-time affair, and they rarely change it based on its success (or lack thereof).  They also try to write it as quickly as humanly possible.  This is one thing that you really should spend your time on, though.  You’re putting yourself—not a product or a service—out there for the world to see, so you might as well put your best foot forward.

To drive the point home, here are some choice examples, taken right from both and JDate, of grammar gone wrong:

  • “I think my profile Warrens a response.”
  • “…fun, calm, with an easy going nature .Great job in the World of Finance, Truly adore all venues of nature.”
  • “I am a lively, warm women who has a lot of energy and enjoys life.”
  • “Love my work and my family biking, reading,camping and hiking,preparing and eating healthy meals.”
  • “If your reading this, then you are one step closer to meeting me. Lucky u.”

As the WSJ article says, “With crimes against grammar rising in the age of social media, some people are beginning to take action.  The online dating world is a prime battleground.”  It sure is, which is why I instill in my clients (and in people in general) the benefits of reading over their profiles, reading them again, reading them aloud, printing them, having a friend review them… you get the idea.  No one is perfect, of course, but we can get as close as we can by doing what’s in our control.

A final word on that: As much as I’m a stickler for correct grammar… and punctuation… and capitalization… maybe your new love interest will be a terrible speller but great at reciting poetry, identifying different kinds of birds, or calculating derivatives.  Everyone is smart in a different way, so it’s important to decide if some initial “flaw” (in this case, a typo or error) is really a deal-breaker for you.  Either way, give your profile the final once-over just in case, because no one wants to go out with someone who is “humerus”—arms just aren’t that funny.


10 Phrases You Should Delete from Your Online Dating Profile

September 14th, 2015

Depending on how long you’ve been on an online dating site, you can imagesprobably relate to that déjà-vu feeling you get when it feels like you’re reading the same profile over and over again.  Somehow, everyone is apparently wearing both little black dresses and flip flops, taking trips to Machu Picchu (did I miss a Groupon or something?), or simply “relaxing with Netflix and a glass of wine.”  Considering that it’s impossible for any of us to be exact physical replicas, why is it that every profile seems to use the same clichés as the last one?  Let’s examine 10 Phrases You Should Delete from Your Online Dating Profile:

  1. I’m just as comfortable in a fancy dress (or tux for you gentlemen) as I am in jeans and flip flops.

This line is an attempt to show that you’re flexible and multi-faceted.  We get the message.  Most of us have a varied wardrobe.  Rather than discuss your clothing preferences, why don’t you talk about the things you like to do?  We can learn a lot more about you if you mention that you prefer a football game over a visit to an art gallery, regardless of what you’re hypothetically wearing.

  1. I like to laugh and have fun.

My goodness… I hope you like to laugh and have fun!  The point is that, unless you like to frown and mope around all day (which I also wouldn’t write), this line could be true for just about anyone.

  1. I can’t believe I’m actually on here.

This is a negative commentary on online dating.  Others might interpret this as, “I can’t believe I’ve fallen this low.  Only losers look for dates online, so I guess I’m a loser, too.”  Online dating is a wonderful thing.  Either embrace it or refrain from joining an online dating site until you can have a more positive attitude about it.

  1. I love traveling.

Again, there are few people who don’t love to travel.  Instead, tell us more.  Do you like to take active road trips across the United States, or do you prefer to lounge on the beach in Cancun?  These details say a lot more about you than a generic statement about travel.

  1. On a typical Friday night, I’m just as happy going out on the town as I am curled up on the couch with wine and a movie.

My response to this is similar to the one for the fancy dress/jeans conundrum, with this added advice: Stop trying to attract everyone.  While it may seem counterintuitive, I’m giving you explicit permission to turn some people off in your profile.  Think about it—it’s more important to be the genuine you than the version you think people want to see, or the version that tries to attract every single person on the site.  Just be yourself.  That way, you know that when someone is interested, it’s because he or she likes what you have to say, not just the fact that you were trying to be inclusive.

  1. My family and friends are important to me.

Another shocker!  There’s no need to spell this one out because people already assume that family and friends are important to you, not the contrary.

  1. My friends say that I’m… (insert a list of complimentary adjectives).

Of course your friends would say all of these great things about you—they’re already your friends!  This could also be construed as a way of trying to appear humble, which can backfire in two ways: 1) it can make you appear insecure (do you not think these things about yourself?) or 2) it still sounds like you’re bragging.

Naturally, this brings me to an important point about “empty adjectives.”  An empty adjective is a descriptor that can’t be proven until someone gets to know you.  For example, I might say that I’m funny, but how would you confirm if that’s true?  Maybe some people find me hilarious (usually the ones who love puns and wordplay), but others aren’t amused.

  1. I’m down-to-earth.

I would love to see a profile that says, “I’m kind of an airhead… but a sweet one.”  This is very subjective, which again characterizes it as an empty adjective.

  1. I love life.

Just like #2, I hope you love life!  Remember, just because you don’t use the line “I love life” in your profile, does not mean that you hate life instead.  It simply gives you space to share the more interesting things that do make your life so great.

  1. I’m looking for a partner in crime.

Unless your name is Bonnie or Clyde, there’s no reason to include this overused cliché.


Now’s your chance: Take some time to review your profile, and if you find any of these overused, cliché phrases, it’s time to hit the backspace button, put on your creativity cap, and set yourself apart from the other online dating clones.


Is Doing Your Due Diligence the New Normal?

August 10, 2015

In some ways, three years seems like no time, and in other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago.  Just over three years ago, I wrote an article called To Google or Not to Google?  That is the Question.  The article discussed how much “research” to do before meeting someone from an online dating site in person.  At the time, I said this:

When it comes down to it, it’s hard to resist the urge to Google or Facebook your date once you have his or her full name staring you in the face, yelling, “Search me!  Search me!”  I’m not going to tell you that you can’t look (who wouldn’t?).  But no matter what you find, try your hardest not to create a firm impression of this person in your mind before you meet.  Unless you find out that he or she is a criminal (which actually happened to one of my clients who discovered that her date was wanted for securities fraud!), just go on the date, have fun, and try to put it all in the back of your mind.

I stand by this statement.  In three years, nothing has changed.  I then went on to say this:

If you decide to look up your date, feel free not to mention you did so unless you’re sure he or she won’t put you in the “creep” category because of it.  (And for those under 25, it’s probably assumed that you looked!)  Stalking = okay.  Talking about stalking = creepy.  Know the difference.

Here’s where a lot has changed in three years.  I can’t remember the last time I showed up to meet a new person, date or otherwise, and the person didn’t already know something about me.  Maybe it was the fact that I own a business, maybe that I have a dog, or maybe that I play in a weekly mahjong game… you can find anything online!  Three years ago, I may have been offended if someone asked me a question about something I had yet to share.  Today, I kind of expect it.

People, understandably, see your online footprint as a way to verify that you’re real.  (And it’s no secret that, sadly, some people do lie online.)  Unfortunately, they don’t just stop there, which is where things get hairy.  It’s one thing to check my LinkedIn account to make sure I am, in fact, a business owner.  It’s another to look at all of my Facebook pictures and comment on my trip to Prague last year.  What if you have a particularly ugly divorce that’s lingering in Google land, or you got a DUI when you were 22?  Should your first dates be privy to that information before you’ve even said “hello” to each other in person?  Whether they should or shouldn’t, they will be.

I can’t tell anyone not to do some due diligence—though I actually do give the advice not to exchange last names over an online dating site if you don’t want to.  First names are plenty for a first meeting.  I can tell you, though, just as I did in the article that feels like it was written just yesterday, to draw your own conclusions about someone separate and apart from what you find online.  eHarmony provides similar advice if you are going to, in fact, look:woman-googling

  1. Keep your search short and simple.
  2. Savor the slow reveal.
  3. Don’t assume anything.

As a side note, New York Magazine actually called not Googling your date “the new abstinence.”  So what does it mean not to Google, Facebook stalk, or Instagram snoop?  I guess that would be celibacy.

Just remember that degrees, photos, and jobs you can find online.  Character, values, and essence, you can only discover for yourself in person.


How Technology is Both Saving and Ruining the World… One Date at a Time

mobile_obsessed_by_tim_cordellJuly 16, 2015

Ten years ago, my job didn’t exist.  There weren’t ads for it.  They didn’t teach it in school.  And had you told me that this would be my profession after graduating college with a degree in economics, I would have laughed in your face.  (And I have a loud laugh!  If you read my book, you know that I was once “recognized” across the room by someone who worked at a furniture store I had just been to.)

I’m a dating coach.

As we all know, dating is a hot topic these days.  Between the rise of IAC, specifically OkCupid and Tinder, and its impending IPO for its dating division, Aziz Ansuri’s book “Modern Romance,” which I’m thoroughly enjoying, and Patti Stanger as The Millionaire Matchmaker (she’s leaving Bravo… time for me to step in??), it seems like everyone and their mother is talking about—and practicing—dating.

This leads to my main topic: technology and its impact on the dating world.  Now, I’m in my 30s, so when I was in college, I didn’t even have a cell phone.  (Well, technically I did—this huge blue box that I lugged around—but I didn’t dare let anyone know I had it!)  College kids today are meeting for study groups, hook-ups, and friendship using Tinder on their brand-spankin’ new iPhones that are nicer than the “lame” 5c I still own with its cracked screen and always-full memory.

I’m certainly not one to dispute that technology is a good thing.  I love (well, mostly love) that I have my email at my fingertips at all times.  I think it’s pretty amazing that I can sign up for all of my gym classes with the click of a button on an app.  I’m still in awe that I once programmed my DVR from my laptop as I was sitting 35,000 feet in the air.  (I know—it’s AMAZING, Louis CK.)  I’m a fan.

Here’s what I’m not a fan of: People looking at their phones all day long so that they don’t even know how to carry on a conversation anymore; A world where I’m not sure if second graders are even learning their times tables since it’s so easy to check the answer with one click… or one ask of your friend and mine, Siri; A place where, in a meeting, someone checks his watch to see that his girlfriend texted him that she’s going to be late for their dinner plans tonight.

When I started my business over four years ago, I was the biggest, baddest fan of technology… specifically online dating.  I thought, and still think, that it’s an incredible way to meet people.  It’s a medium that gives you access to so many eligible people.  Wow—sign me up.

Also when I started, there was no such thing as a dating app.  Yes, perhaps the already existing sites had apps to make it easier for users to log in (and OkCupid had a fun/crazy experiment called Crazy Blind Date that got the kibosh quicker than you could schedule said crazy blind date), but there was no such thing as Tinder, Hinge, Grindr, Coffee Meets Bagel, JSwipe, Happn, The League, Bumble… Shall I go on?

It’s so easy now to get a date.  Wasn’t that the hard part a mere 10 years ago?  Is it too easy to get a date?  For some, it is.  It’s so easy that, rather than actually taking the time to get to know someone, it’s more important to have the next date lined up, like a taxi line of attractive women just waiting to be swept off their feet… or more like taken out for a drink that may or may not be paid for.  Clients of mine even get anxious sometimes when they don’t have the next date lined up, even if they already have three on the calendar.

I still love online dating, of course, and I’ve had countless clients meet significant others, whether for long-term or short-term relationships, depending on their goals.  But, like the paradox of choice, is too much choice necessarily a good thing?  If you are looking for a man, say, who is tall, dark, and handsome (cliché, I know), if you instead find a man who is tall(ish), dark(ish), and handsome(ish) but treats you like a queen or king and makes you feel like you won the lottery every day, you’d still be looking for next cab with its light on.

Am I saying not to use technology to get dates?  Of course not.  But what I am saying is that everything has its merits… to a point.  Chocolate is wonderful until you drink the entire bottle of Hershey’s syrup and get a sugar headache for three days.  (I’m not saying I know anyone who’s ever done this…)  A workout routine is so important until you strain your hamstring from overuse.  And technology is great until you miss that amazing connection in pursuit of something better, better, better.

So, use technology to find a date.  Go crazy!  And then stop.  Remind yourself that people are people, and they deserve a real chance.  The next cab may stink like smoke or have a careless driver or be headed in a different direction than you want to go.  You can keep taking rides for the rest of your life, or you can take each ride one at a time, one date at a time, one click at a time, and one swipe at a time.

To see a recent interview on “The New Age of Dating” on News Channel 8, click here.

What’s the Whole Point of Dating?

June 18, 2015

Not that I take Urban Dictionary as gospel (I’d have sDatingome problems if I did!), but when it comes to the definition of “dating,” the usually off-color site does a surprisingly good job of defining the word. The first definition on the site says that dating is, “… To be in the early stages of a relationship where [you] go out on dates to find out what each other is like, as a prelude to actually being a fully-fledged couple.” Notice that the definition isn’t “going out once to determine if this person will be your soul mate.” This is where many people get confused.

Clients and friends ask me all the time whether they should go on a second date since they’re not sure whether they were really into the other person (either for personality or physical attraction reasons) after the first date. They reason that they don’t want to lead the other person on, making him or her think that this might be the beginning of a relationship when, in fact, the next date would be “just to see” if there’s any potential there.

While in theory this makes sense, I argue that the whole point of dating is to get to know people to see if you want to start a relationship with them! The definition above even states that people date “to find out what each other is like.” It’s often the case that we’re not sure how we feel after a first date. Of course, it’s sometimes clear that you have a major spark, or alternately, that you can’t stand the other person. (The guy I once went out with who literally sulked – yes, literally – when I beat him at ping pong certainly made the decision easy for me.) It’s often too hard after just one date (which is likely only an hour or so long) to decide if this person drinking a Jack and diet across from you will ultimately be the mother or father of your children! My point: It’s okay to see someone again just to see whether he or she is a good fit. You’re not leading someone on – you’re just dating!

I know I’ve told this story before, but back in 2005, I went on a first date with someone I met at kickball. (My team name, you ask? Kick it up a Notch… Bam!) I consider myself to be an engaging person who can talk to just about anyone, but there were silences… awkward ones. When the date came to a close, I thought to myself, “Nice enough guy, but I don’t think I’m into him.”

The next day, I sent a “thank you” email (which I do recommend — over email or text — if you’re interested, and in this case, I erred on the side of being nice). From that email, we actually started a pretty darn witty banter. And then he asked me out again. What was a girl to do? While I didn’t have a great time on the date, this guy seemed interested. I knew he could at least communicate in written form, and, well, I was free the night he asked. I figured it couldn’t hurt “just to see.”

Long story short: We dated for a year and a half. It’s more than okay not to know after the first date how you feel. Remember, you don’t have to make life-altering decisions after date #1, like what kind of wedding china you’re going to get. Simply ask yourself this question: Do I want to have another conversation with this person to get to know him/her? If the answer might be yes (or even if you’re not sure), you have nothing to lose by giving it another shot. It’s just dating, after all.

What’s in a name?

May 27, 2015





If I gave you these four online dating usernames (all made up, of course), whose profile do you think you’d click on first?  I’d venture to say, solely based on the username, that you’d choose the third or fourth one.  Am I right?  While the username is sometimes an afterthought for online daters, I encourage you to think of it more as an executive summary.  It is one additional chance to share an extra tidbit about yourself in online dating land.  Using a computer-generated number or your first name is analogous to wearing a black suit and white shirt amidst a line of others in a black suit and white shirt.  Having a fun, clever username adds some flair, like apurple checkered tie or pink nails with fancy designs on them.  (Yes – those are my nails below.  Like?)nails

Let’s say you walked into a bookstore, and there was a book called, “The Scientific Answer to Your Most Common Questions.”  Would you buy it?  Now, what if the title was instead “Why Do Men Have Nipples?: Hundreds of Questions You’d Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini” that graced the shelf?  Perhaps some of us, out of sheer embarrassment, would opt for the first choice, but I’m guessing that more of us would at least be intrigued by the scandalous title of the second choice… and then maybe go home and buy it online so no one can tell just how intrigued we are.  (And for the record, this is a real book.  I own it.  Don’t judge.)

Now, back to usernames…

When online dating, one objective is to catch someone’s attention quickly.  There are so many options out there that it’s important to take every opportunity to differentiate yourself.  As an exercise, think of two or three words that really define you – nouns, verbs, adjectives, anything.  Then, try to string them together into a username.  I’d much rather date a “NatsFanFromAK” over a “283017390” any day.  This username intrigues me.  When did the person move from Alaska?  And why would he then become a Nationals fan?  (Don’t get me wrong – I love my home team.)  I’ve learned a lot about this person in a mere 13 characters.  If anything, your potential matches know that you put in the extra time and effort to come up with something creative, even if it only took a minute.  Let’s also try to avoid anything negative, like “JustGotDumped” or “LonelyManHere.”

Before you take the leap and post your username, though, make sure it doesn’t have any undesired meanings.  For example, if you’re from Virginia but cheer for New York football teams, you might still want to stay away from something like “VAGiantsFan.”  Along those lines, if you’re from Alabama, definitely avoid things like “AnALfan.”  Or how about “Buttongirl,” who loves her collection of vintage buttons and brooches?  It’s probably best to leave anything that might be misconstrued as a body part out of your name.  And lastly – the pièce de résistance – it might be a good idea to check your username in Urban Dictionary before you post it.  There was a “Tossed Salad” incident on JDate that I don’t want to happen to you, too.

The Golden Rule… of Dating

April 29, 2015

It’s funny how many people reference The Golden Rule in their online dating profiles: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Okay, perhaps not too many people reference it on JDate or JSwipe considering it’s often claimed by Christianity (though similar phrases do appear in the Torah—The Book of Leviticus, to be exact). But the sentiment is still there. Treat people with the respect with which you want to be treated. Period.

So why is it that, especially in the world of technology, people often don’t practice what they preach? At least once a month, a client tells me that he or she was stood up. Not cancelled on at the last minute (this is more like an everyday occurrence), but actually stood up. I even got this email recently from Emily, the associate writer who works for me, who is in her mid- to late-20s:

“A couple issues that my single/dating friends have been talking to me about are related to being stood up. They’ve been connecting with these guys on Tinder who agree to meet up and seem totally into them, and then bail at the very last minute with the WORST excuses (literally one of them was told that the guy couldn’t make it because his parents were coming over to go over their taxes). And others have shown up on dates that have been planned and confirmed… and the date just isn’t there.”

Let’s talk for a minute about how most of us like to be treated:

  1. Our time is valuable, so if someone is going to cancel, we would prefer a day’s notice.
  2. If there is a last-minute cancellation, we would like there to at least be an apology.
  3. If someone changes his or her mind at the last minute about meeting at all, a short and simple explanation would be appropriate.
  4. If someone doesn’t like us, we’d like to know rather than being left in the dust wondering if we’ll ever hear from him or her again.

If you’re the one who needs to cancel or otherwise change plans, here are some simple solutions to make sure you’re treating the other person with the respect with which you’d want to be treated:

The day before the date – a nice text or email

“Hey! I am so sorry to do this, but I was just informed of a business dinner I need to attend tomorrow. I wanted to reach out as soon as I heard so I didn’t leave you hanging without plans. Can we reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week? Again, I really appreciate your understanding.”

The day of, before about 1 PM – a nice text or email early in the day

“Was really looking forward to seeing you tonight! Unfortunately, there’s been a change of plans on my end that I can’t get out of, and I wanted to let you know as soon as I heard. I’m really sorry about that. Can we reschedule for Monday or Tuesday next week? Again, I really appreciate your understanding.”

“Was really looking forward to seeing you tonight! I hate to do this at the 11th hour, but I recently started seeing someone else, and the more I thought about it, I realized it wouldn’t be fair to him/her to still meet up with you. So sorry to have waited until now. I hope you understand, and I wish you the best!”

The day of, after about 1 PM – a nice call

Yes—a call! Even though it took me a while to adapt to the fact that people “date” over text now (and it is admittedly much more convenient), if you’re cancelling within a few hours of the date, the courteous thing to do is to call. Texting is the easy way out because you don’t have to deal with the repercussions of seeing or hearing someone’s reaction, often disappointment. While I know not everyone will heed this advice, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put it out there.

“Hey Sara. This is Darren from I know it’s probably weird that I’m calling, but I wanted to sincerely apologize for having to cancel at the last minute. Something came up that I can’t get out of, and I just wanted to say that I’m sorry.”

I once had to do this to someone. It was 5 PM, and I had a first date at 6:30 PM. I had just received an email from a long-term ex-boyfriend informing me that he was in a new relationship. (Jerk move? I think so.) At any rate, I was in no place to put my best foot forward on a first date, so I called the guy I was meeting from OKC or Tinder (who could remember?), told him I was really sorry (and was actually honest about what happened), and rescheduled for a couple days later. He actually thanked me on the date for handling things so maturely and for calling him. Even though it was the only date we went on, it’s nice to know that I handled it in a way that I can be proud of. And that’s what I want for all of you. Obviously the reasons will differ, but the sentiment is the same.

The day after – a nice text or email

Let’s say you went on a date on Tuesday night. By Wednesday, you already have a text expressing interest in seeing you again.

“Hey Joey. Thanks for a fun time last night! Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel a romantic connection (or insert your preferred synonym: click, connection, spark, etc.) that I was hoping for, but I wish you only the best!”

Just because it feels like you’re incognito on these dating sites doesn’t give you license to deny others the same respect that you’d want to be shown. People are not things. You can’t just throw them away like garbage or treat them as if your time is more valuable than theirs. Just keep this in mind when making, planning, and cancelling dates. Let The Golden Rule live… one date at a time.

The 5 Things NOT to Ask Your Single Friends

SingleApril 7, 2015

As a dating coach, many clients come to me wanting to find that perfect partner, that person who makes them no longer want to be on the market, that “one.”  They tell me that they have had relationships in the past that haven’t worked out for one reason or another.  Or, they tell me that they have had that magical romance only to have lost their loved ones too soon.  Whatever the circumstance—and everyone has a story—they hire me to help them navigate the murky waters of dating in the hopes of finding the right fit.

It’s funny how things can change so quickly.  We all have that friend who is perpetually single, and then one day he or she meets the new love of his or her life, and the next thing you know, they become a “we” rather than an “I” plus “I.”  And so many times, these newly coupled friends forget what it’s like to be on the other end—single and looking.

Wherever you are in your relationship, it’s important to remember that everyone is on his or her own journey, and some people spend more time in certain chapters of their lives than others.  I’m here to remind the happy couples that the singles out there, especially in the wake of Valentine’s Day, need a special kind of friend, and there are certain things you can say or ask that will likely rub them the wrong way.  I want to share the five things that you should not ask your single friends or relatives:

  1. You’re such a catch! How hasn’t anyone snatched you up yet?

I attended a Valentine’s Day party this year because my company was one of the sponsors.  As I walked in, this older gentleman who knew absolutely nothing about me said, “You’re too beautiful to be single.”  While on the surface this may seem like a compliment (I said a polite “thanks”), the actual implication is, “What’s wrong with you?”  This question puts undue pressure on that person, and no one likes being put on the defensive.  If you want to give a real compliment, instead say, “I feel lucky to have you in my life” or simply, “You’re beautiful.”


  1. Do you think you’re too picky or you don’t give people a chance?

Everyone has standards.  It’s up to your friend to decide what his or her non-negotiables are.  There are nicer ways to ask this question, like “What are you looking for in a partner?”


  1. Why are you still single?

It’s the word “still” here that is the most irksome.  Adding the word “still” makes this question sound like there is only one thing in life that people aspire to—not being single.  There are so many singles out there who want nothing more than to be independent, and a relationship is the furthest thing from their mind.  That’s a choice that I truly respect, and no one should make you feel guilty for making it.  Let’s remove the word “still” from single.  Always.  Period.


  1. Do you think you’re afraid of commitment?

If the answer is “yes,” then what do you say next?  Do you have a solution?  And if it’s “no,” then it just makes the person feel worse.  Plus, the question may bring up painful issues from the past.


  1. Maybe love will come when you least expect it?

Because of my job, I have to refute this one.  Dating isn’t easy, which many people don’t realize.  For example, when it comes to online dating, many people think they can just throw a profile up there and wait.  That’s like signing up for a gym but never setting your tuchus down on a bike.  It’s just not going to work.  Most things that matter in life—jobs, fitness, and even the pursuit of love—take work.  It’s always worth it to give something the old college try.


So, if you’re in coupled bliss, enjoy it!  Heck, revel in it!  But when it comes to your friends and loved ones, remember that everyone moves at a different pace, and everyone makes different decisions about how to spend their lives.  There’s no one “right” choice.  You simply make the choice that’s best for you.  Respect that in others, and hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

Texting and Dating: How Much Is Too Much?

March 16, 2015

How many times have you said the following to your friends, or have they said something like this to you?

We were talking online, and then he asked for my number to make it easier to schedule the date.  Well, it’s been a week, and all he does is text with no date in sight!


I don’t know… I guess I pictured him differently in my head from all his texts.

Or, how about this one?

OMG—I love this girl!  We’ve been texting every day, and I’m really falling for her. 

It happens all the time… someone puts his or her phone number down on a dating site or app and says, “Text me” or “Reach out to me.”  Does it really make communicating easier?  Isn’t it just as easy to check your email or your Tinder/JSwipe/Hinge as it is a text?  (Okay, maybe it’s not quite as easy, but still…)  And really, is there a need to text before the date, except to confirm the day before?  (Very important: do this)  My recommendation is simply to exchange numbers a day or two prior to the date so you can 1) confirm and 2) contact each other the day of in case something goes awry (you need to cancel, you’re running late, etc.).  As a side note—and I know I’ve said this before—if you’re cancelling the day of the date, especially if it’s within a few hours of when you’re supposed to meet each other, please do have the decency to call.

Besides the never-ending text relationship that might form with no date in sight, by texting (or emailing) too much before the date, you run the risk of building a false impression of this person that may not equate to what he or she is like in real life.  We often have a tendency to share things behind the screen that we may not reveal to someone in the flesh until much later.  The New York Post even has a name for this—premature escalation.

The article says this: “It’s a trend we’ve coined ‘premature escalation’… since our whole world is so instant now, people can craft entire personas through their slew of texts… by the time you meet your partner for an actual date, you’ve built up this whole image and fantasy in your head of who you think they are, and then they turn out to be totally different.”  Sound familiar?

What’s the solution then?  If you’re intent on texting before a date, then try to keep these texts to a minimum, with the purpose of determining the logistics of the date.  Whitney Casey, a love expert for agrees: “If your date starts sending you ‘How was your day?’ texts, it’s on you to cut him or her off — nicely.”  Saying something as simple as this should do the trick: “Hey—I’m not really a huge texter, but I’m really looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday!”

Now, I’m not saying all texting is bad.  In fact, I love texting!  It’s great when you’re in a relationship to check in with someone during the day or to send a sweet inside joke.  But just as I would never advise anyone to “friend” a potential date on Facebook before the first date, I would strongly advise you to just set up the date and go from there.  The sooner you meet, the sooner you’ll know if there’s chemistry.  And then text away!



Online Dating on Valentine’s Day

11545February 9, 2015

Ah, Valentine’s Day.  Some people love the chocolates and flowers.  Some people hate the saccharine Hallmark cards that permeate the aisles.  And, of course, some people choose to treat February 14th as just any other day of the year.  Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, many people do place a lot of weight on the holiday, and that is evidenced by the number of people who log into the online dating sites in advance of, and after, 2/14.

In February of last year, the dating site Zoosk ran some numbers on their subscribers to see if any trends could be assessed.  The site found that there were 16 percent more messages sent in the two weeks following Valentine’s Day compared to the two weeks before.  Why might this be?  I have two theories:

  1. The time leading up to Valentine’s Day is full of pressure, so perhaps people prefer to wait until after the holiday when the pressure is off and there’s no perceived deadline to find a date or a relationship.
  2. Just like the Turkey Drop, perhaps many a relationship has ended, and the next thing people look to do is go online for a new belle or beau.

According to Zoosk, Valentine’s Day itself had the least number of profile views of any day in February for both men and women—25 percent below average.  This one makes sense.  Not too many people want to admit to looking at an online dating site on what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.  Valentine’s Day also had the least number of registrations of any day in February for both men and women, down 16 percent from the average.

Interestingly enough, said that its site is targeted to have more than two million users logging on over 36 million times in the first week of January, and the busiest period kicks off on Christmas Day each year and typically lasts until February 14.  During that time, the site boasts a 30% increase in new member sign-ups.

This is interesting.  Either Zoosk and Match see opposite trends for the two weeks leading up to the 14th, or the busiest season is skewed a bit to the right, peaking in late December and January and dipping a bit in February while still keeping the numbers above average.  Two years ago, though, did come out and say, “ sees a 20 percent uptick in new members the week after Valentine’s Day (when compared to the subsequent weeks).”

What do I say about all of this?  If you’re single and looking, the time is now to get online.  Whether this week or next week is statistically the best or the worst is irrelevant.  What’s most important is whether you feel ready, and if you do, then go for it!  And if you need some tips to help you along the way, feel free to read some of my older posts.

Happy V-Day!

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

January 26, 2015Hamlet

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a literature buff.  I vaguely remember reading Romeo & Juliet in high school, but that’s really the extent of my knowledge.  (I did used to think it was interesting that female parts were played by men for a period of time, though.)  At any rate, there is a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that I seem to use over and over again when it comes to online dating (and dating in general): “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”  As our good friend Wikipedia shares, this phrase is often used as a figure of speech to indicate that a person’s overly frequent or vehement attempts to convince others of something have ironically helped to convince others that the complete opposite is true, by making the person look defensive and insincere.  For example, if your vegan friend says seventeen times at brunch, “Of course I don’t care if you want to eat steak and eggs in front of me,” then the number of times he says that often directly correlates to how much he actually does care.

Why the lesson in 17th century literature, you might ask?  As it relates to dating, people are often very quick to say something about themselves as a defense mechanism, when the reality of it is that without that defense, no one would make the very assumption that this person is denying.

As an example, I was perusing the other day, searching for women of interest for a client of mine in North Carolina, and I came across this profile below:

“I am a busy person who thinks she is easygoing.  I like to do things like clean and organize but I’m not OCD.  I’m happiest when I’ve tackled a project and then can sit back when I’m done and enjoy the accomplishment.”

Not only is it one of the more boring profiles on the site, but it also says, “I like to do things like clean and organize but I’m not OCD.”  The first thing I immediately think when I read that line is, “This woman is OCD, but she’s trying to hide it… very poorly.”  If you’re not, then don’t call attention to it.  And if you are, just be honest about it.  Either choice is better than the one she made.  “I love coming home to a clean, organized house” would have gotten the same point across without any judgment.

Let’s take a look at another excerpt from a profile:

“No, I’m not full of myself as I know where I came from and ‘I’m not a player’ and I should say I don’t have time for games or flakes as I have a lot to offer the right woman.  I’m a miner, I’m also a bit of a bad man in a ‘good way’ with a wild side I guess I’m like a M and M a tough hard exterior on the outside soft and sweet on the inside once you get to know me.”

Besides being a very poor writer, this gentleman starts out by making two claims: “I’m not full of myself” and “I’m not a player.”  Most women will read this as, “I’m a player, and I’m full of myself.”

In court, you’re innocent until proven guilty.  It’s the same thing with online dating.  There’s no need to compensate for something that should be considered the baseline, or the innocence, if you will.  Unless told otherwise, the baseline is that you’re honest and nice and everything else good in the world.  You’re starting at 100%.  It’s when you start to refute things that should be the baseline that people will start to question you.

So speak the truth, don’t cover things up, and if you’re tempted to say something in a defensive manner to dispel someone’s thoughts that you’re a certain way, it’s time to think again.  The reader most likely won’t notice until it’s pointed out.


Feel free to leave in the comments section any of these lines that you’ve seen where someone is protesting too much, youthinks.

The Top Five Online Dating Findings from 2014

December 29, 2014

Do you like to travel?  Me, too.  Apparently so does everyone else on  How do I know this? just came out with its 2014 Year in Review report, and below are the top five highlights:

  1. The most common word people used in profiles in 2014 was “travel.”  It showed up in more than one million profiles—1,005,346, to be exact. That’s a lot of planes, trains, and automobiles.  I’m surprised “marathon” or “training” wasn’t another one.  When I search the various online dating sites for my clients, I feel like I’m the only one who isn’t training for some sort of uber-fitness competition!
  2. The most common phrase people used was “down to earth.”  Almost a quarter of a million people describe themselves that way. Yep, 232,348 people consider themselves to be down to earth.  This is why we shouldn’t use “empty adjectives.”  They can’t be proven until you get to know someone.  And even then, it’s pretty subjective.
  3. Words that made big jumps in popularity this year were Zumba, electrician, welcoming, warmhearted, crochet, quickest, cosmetology, ladies, and sewing… with Zumba being #1. Now, what percentage of the people who list going to Zumba actually go to Zumba?  The world may never know.
  4. “Frozen”was listed as 5,501 people’s favorite movie this year, which is well above any other movie.  How many times can one person actually listen to “Let it Go” on repeat?  Actually, I don’t think I want to know!
  5. One person used a whopping… wait for it… 44 hashtags in his profile! #toomuchtimeonyourhands

In writing a fictitious profile that encompasses all five highlights, let’s see what we have here:

I’m a down to earth gal (because my dad was an electrician) who loves to go to Zumba class, travel, and crochet.  I like to sew, too, but I’m not old enough to do that too often!  #notagrandmayet  I’m also pretty warmhearted, especially since I LOVE watching Frozen.  That Elsa is such a strong woman, just like me.

What’s the moral here?  Dare to be different!  The profile above kind of looks like one of the most annoying people in existence.  People don’t want to date one of the masses.  They want to date you, even (especially?) if you don’t watch Frozen or go to Zumba.



Let’s Go Shopping… For a Date?

December 15, 2014

I mentioned once that I felt a bit like Carrie Bradshaw when I sat down to write my first ever dating column many years ago.  Just as Carrie would have shopped for clothes on Sex and the City, I want to talk about how online dating is a bit like clothes shopping.  (I know the analogy is slightly cringe-worthy, but bear with me for a minute.) Pants don't fit.

When most of us go shopping, we fall in love with an article of clothing, say some black pin-striped pants that look like they’d sit perfectly on our waist, and then we look for our size.  Sadly, it’s not there—what a disappointment.  But that’s not how I shop.  I’m very petite (a whopping 5’1), so I have to do the reverse; I blindly shop for my size and then decide if I like what I find.  And sometimes I’ll even learn to love something in my size (I can think of a red dress offhand) because it fits so well, even though it’s not initially what I set out to buy.

Online dating is surprisingly similar.  People have a tendency to look through the whole universe of people online for that perfect-looking garment, or person, who on the outside looks like a match made in heaven.  But as you dig deeper, you learn that the fit just isn’t right for one reason or another—he wants children and you don’t, she is not yet divorced, he doesn’t feel the same way you do about higher education, etc.  But you want to make it work so badly because you love what you see on the surface.  I can’t tell you the number of times I loved a pair of pants at Banana Republic, and I tried on a “regular” (rather than “petite”—aka “short”), somehow hoping that the sizing would miraculously be a bit off and they would fit that day.  Pants we can hem, but people we can’t.

Think about this for a moment: Search instead for people who fit the objective things you’re looking for (your size requirements, or your non-negotiables), then send an email to a wide range of people who fit those criteria.  Try to keep the non-negotiable list short, perhaps to a handful of things you either can’t live with or can’t live without.  Beyond that, cast a wide net.  You never know until you try on the pants, or the person, whether it’ll be a good fit, so you might as well search through everything in your size and try some things on.  Maybe the person who didn’t seem to be your type turns into the red dress.  It’s a match you weren’t expecting.  This method is much better than looking through people’s exterior qualities and then finding that nothing is your size.  You’re more likely to get a better fit in the end.



Is “Ghosting” the New Post-It Note?

November 6, 2014db_file_img_1044_350x350

In the days before texting and Tinder, there was actual talking and the art of the real, in-person conversation.  Even on Sex and The City, when Berger broke up with Carrie on a (dare I say it?) Post-it note, it was viewed as terrible form.  And it was.

So, why now, do people think it’s okay to not even give someone the courtesy of the measly Post-it note?  Some people are doing what has been termed “ghosting,” just up and leaving a relationship without having to courtesy to tell your significant other that you’re, well, up and leaving.  Some people called it “the fade-away,” some call it the “disappearing act,” and some have called it “falling off the earth.”  What do I call it?  Rudeness, cowardice, and selfishness for starters.

There was an article in Huffington Post the other day called ‘Ghosting:’ The 21st-Century Dating Problem Everyone Talks About, But No One Knows How To Deal With.  It talked about this phenomenon and how people are simply disappearing because that seems easier than breaking up with someone.  It even happened to a friend of mine after over a year of dating someone.  She got an email from her boyfriend saying that he was going through a rough patch.  She, as a dutiful girlfriend, said that she’d, of course, be there for him.  And that was the last time he ever spoke to her.  Her only remaining remnant was her Facebook profile photo, which she promptly took down in first confusion and then disappointment.

With the ubiquitous use of modern technology—text, GChat, Hinge, Tinder, What’s App, Google Voice, OkCupid—it’s almost too easy to think of people as disposable, just as the technology that once was so novel and exciting is now a bit older and less exciting.  But people are not things.  People have feelings.  For that reason alone, you need to buck up and have an actual, real conversation, whether you’ve been on three dates or 300.


While there are no specific rules, this is what I recommend:

After one date

If you mutually do not want to see each other again, then no follow-up is necessary.  If, however, one person asks the other out again, and the second party does not want to go, then the best option is to say something to the effect of, “Thank you so much for a nice time the other night.  I’m, unfortunately, not feeling that connection that I’m looking for, but I wish you the best of luck.”

After two to three dates

Given that you’ve now spent at least several hours together, it is best to acknowledge that there will not be any future dates.  “I think you’re great, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with you, but I unfortunately don’t see this going forward romantically.  Some guy/gal will be very lucky to find you!”  Email or phone is fine for this.

After four or more dates but before being exclusive

I have the same advice here as the two to three date guidance, but this should really be a conversation where you can hear each other’s voices, either over the phone or in person.

In an exclusive relationship

The only way to break up with someone when you’re in an exclusive relationship, barring distance, is in person.  Period.


Writing about the subject in The Date Report in May, reporter Sara Ashley O’Brien explained that ghosting just prolongs the time it takes to get over someone:

“A simple acknowledgment of an appreciation for the time we did spend together, ‘Hey, I had a fun few dates with you but I don’t think we’re right for each other beyond that,’ would provide so much more closure.  It’s always a blow, but you can get over it in a few days.  When the ghost disappears, you spend the first few days wondering when you’re going to get a text back and then weeks trying to figure out what went wrong.”

Greg Behrendt of He’s Just Not That Into You fame disagrees, saying, “It’s simple, and there’s no need to contemplate the many ‘reasons’ a date is unresponsive.  When someone’s not texting you and you see they’ve read your text, then you should really get it.”

Here’s the difference.  While someone might get it, he or she does not deserve it.  Behrendt goes on to say that when you’re tired of something, like a movie or a sports team, you just walk away.  He’s turning people into objects.  People are not things.  We have feelings and emotions and limited time to sit around and wait to see if our love interest is going to contact us again in the next three days… or ever.

Some people rationalize their “ghosting” behavior by saying that they are trying to spare the other person’s feelings by not sharing the truth.  If that’s what makes you sleep at night, then fine, but we all know that’s a big load of you-know-what.

The moral of the story is to own up to your actions, take a little discomfort in the present (telling someone how you feel) for a future of knowing you’re an upstanding person who doesn’t hurt others to spare yourself.  I’ve seen too many incidents of this happen with friends and clients.  Don’t be a culprit, and I certainly hope you’re not a victim.  Just be a good person, have fun with dating, and when it’s over, just have the courtesy to let the person you’re seeing in on your decision.

No Risk, No Reward

October 22, 2014


In life, when we want something, we often have to take a risk.  Want a new job?  Better put together that resume and send it into the ether for your potential new employers to see.  Want to be a success in business?  Perhaps quit a job (as I did) or invest in something (or someone) you’re not 100% sure about.  Want to meet the right partner?  Join an online dating site, go to a speed-dating event, or even just tell friends you’re single and you’re willing to be set up.  Rarely do the things we want in life the most come to us neatly wrapped with a bow on top.  Even the most successful people know this.

When dating, it’s important to put yourself out there to get what you want.  Why do many of us think happiness will simply find us when we least expect it?  A client even recently emailed me about a guy who, unfortunately, didn’t work out in the relationship department.  She wrote, “I just wanted the easy route, which was a guy who liked me to show up and be perfect, but I guess that has kind of a fairy tale ring to it. Oh well.” Sadly, as she’s starting to realize, that’s just not how it works.  In online dating, and dating in general, good things don’t necessarily come to those who wait.  Good things come to the proactive.

Many people go online or go to a speed-dating event and expect to find their “one and only” simply by signing up or logging in.  It takes a bit more energy than that.  But don’t worry—all of the effort isn’t for naught. Let’s look at a few steps in the process:

  • Signing up for an online dating site for the first timeRisk Reward

Remember, finding the love of your life takes time and work.

  • Going on a first date

While you always hope that each one may be your last first date, just go in looking for great conversation and some things in common.

  • Going to a social event

It’s okay if your future spouse doesn’t sweep you off your feet at the event.  Just go to have a good time and meet some new people.

  • Going to a wedding

I know they say weddings are a great place to meet people, and one of my friends actually moved across the country and married a wonderful man she met at a wedding, but it’s rare that the circumstance works out as well as it did for them.  If you’re going to a wedding solo, just enjoy the event, stuff your face with hors d’oeuvres, and partake heavily in the open bar if you so choose (but remember that too much may scare away that cutie or stud staring at you from across the dance floor).

It will likely take some effort to find the right person (and you may have to kiss a lot of frogs), but throughout the process, you learn what you like and what you don’t like.  As Carrie once said on Sex and the City, “People go to casinos for the same reason they go on blind dates—hoping to hit the jackpot. But mostly, you just wind up broke or alone in a bar.”  Love is out there, but, just as the other important things you may want in life, it may take some grit and some risks to find it.

Online Dating: Then and Now

September 22, 2014

Online dating has been around for a while now.  In fact, first opened its proverbial doors back in 1993!  As you may know, I was actually a very early adopter of online dating, using JDate back in 2000 or 2001, before people really had any idea what it was all about.  My parents, naturally, flipped out, thinking I was going to meet some psycho-killer, or worse, someone who wasn’t worthy of their daughter!  The worst that happened, of course, was a few bad dates with some socially awkward men… er… boys who were clueless as to what dating actually involved.  But why not try it out?  I was technologically savvy.  I mean, I did have a cell phone in college before anyone else did, even if it was this ridiculously large blue thing that I didn’t want anyone to know I had.  (It was very uncool to have a cell phone back then.)

I thought we’d take a stroll down memory lane and compare online dating in the early 2000s to online dating today.


Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Steve.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: Well, we haven’t actually “met” yet.  I found him on JDate.

Person 2: What?!?!  You’re not that desperate, are you?  Geez—protect yourself!  Tell me all the details.  Let me know where you’ll be.  I just hope you’ll be safe.  You never know what psychos are hiding on those sites.  Wow—I didn’t know anyone I knew would actually try online dating!


Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Steve.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: On OkCupid.

Person 2: Cool!  My sister met her husband on  Have fun!



OMG—I think that guy across the room at the dessert table looked at my profile on (whisper) eHarmony.  I can’t even look at him.  How embarrassing!


I think that guy and I matched on Coffee Meets Bagel (an online dating app) the other day.  I think I’ll go say hi!  Maybe it’ll speed up the process of him asking me out. 😉



Which four pictures should I use for my JDate profile?  I guess I’ll have to upload the pictures from my new digital camera to my computer to post them on the site.  Or, I guess I can scan some of the other ones I have.  I hope it works.


Which pictures should I use for my OkCupid, Hinge, and Tinder profiles?  Let me check out some pics on Facebook and my phone to see which ones I want to use.  Actually, I think there’s a really good one on Instagram that someone tagged me in!

Side note: I still only recommend posting three to five photos



Person: How did you two meet?

Couple: Um… well… haha… it’s a long story.  (Look at each other embarrassingly.)


Person: How did you two meet?

Couple (in unison): Online!

The stigma is gone, and online dating is here to stay.  Daily Mail UK predicts that in 20 years, half of all couples will meet online, and this number may rise to 70% by 2040.  If you’re not already playing the online dating game, now’s the time to give it a whirl.  Why not?


How Dating Deal Breakers Can Hinder Success

September 2, 2014

How many deal breakers is it appropriate to have when searching online for a partner?  One, five, fifteen?  There is no magic number, of course, and Patti Stanger of The Millionaire Matchmaker says that five is a good choice… and I agree.  If there’s one thing I know from both my own dating experience and from being a dating coach, though, it’s that 125 is too many!  Where did I get this crazy number, you ask?

A woman recently posted on Tumblr a section of a guy’s profile on OkCupid that I’ll just say was pretty limiting.  And when I say “pretty limiting,” I actually mean ridiculously and obsessively rude and off-putting.  Below is just a small sample of his “do not message me if…” section.  (For the record, OkCupid actually has a section called “You should message me if…”  This means that he actually added this new section to his profile.  Classy.)

Crazy Deal Breakers

After reading the entire list, I counted, and I have 20 of his 125 “don’t message me if” qualities.  Most notable were:

  • You consider yourself a happy person.  (Umm… guilty as charged.)
  • You wear uncomfortable clothing and/or shoes for the sake of feminine style.  (We all know that women dress for other women!)
  • You use the term “foodie.”  (I’m a foodie, all right, and I’m not sorry about it.  I’m just well fed.)

Even if I did fit everything (which I’m pretty sure no one possibly could), I would be so turned off by the negativity that I wouldn’t want to date him anyway.  A question I would pose to him is this: Why do most of these things matter to you?

In talking with Sarah Gooding, the resident Dating Coach at PlentyOfFish, she and I agreed that one should create and live by a few key dating deal breakers.  Most singles have established certain rules when it comes to dating, but they don’t know that they may have too many unnecessary deal breakers that are preventing them from finding a great relationship.  To ensure the right person isn’t being overlooked, let’s look at these five dating deal breaker rules, courtesy of Sarah and elaborated on by yours truly:

  1. Deal breakers should be qualities, values, or beliefs that won’t change.

A lot of clients have said things to me like, “I can’t date him.  He’s between jobs.”  Does this mean he can’t get a job in the future?  Of course not!  Income can change; employment status can change; ambition probably can’t. 

  1. Create no more than five deal breakers/must haves.

Sit down and really think about what’s important to you.  Maybe it’s religious beliefs or level of education.  Stick to your guns on those things, but beyond that, explore.  As an exercise, picture that perfect person with or without each “deal breaker” and see if it matters.  If not, then it’s time to reevaluate your list.

  1. Do not mention your deal breakers in the text of your online dating profile.

Most online dating sites have many check-box questions, such as age, religion, children, etc.  This is where the deal breakers will come out.  If you want kids, then check that box accurately.  No need to then state, “Don’t write to me if you don’t want to have children.”

  1. Don’t use your previous relationship to create future deal breakers.

It’s easy after a relationship ends to want to find the exact opposite type of person, isn’t it?  We go through all of the things we loathed about our ex and list those as our new deal breakers.  I encourage everyone not to do this because 1) it comes off as fairly bitter and 2) there must have been some good quality in that person if you dated in the first place.  Using what you learned from your last relationship, make your list, but don’t make it solely based on what didn’t work the last time.

Also, as a side note, everything that may be a trait that you don’t want in a partner can likely be turned into a trait that you do want.  For example:

Negative: I’m not looking for players or serial daters.

Positive: I’m looking for someone who is ready for a committed relationship.

  1. Be open-minded if someone meets all of your criteria.  However, if he or she doesn’t, decide if it’s worth giving it a shot.

If someone meets all of the criteria you’ve set for yourself, then it can’t hurt to give it a try.  On the one hand, perfect on paper doesn’t equal perfect in real life, so you’ll still have to assess chemistry, but at least you’ll know that you’re off to a good start.  On the other hand, if you know that someone has one of your deal breakers (let’s say religion), then perhaps it’s best not to “try that person on” if you know in the long run it’s not something you can live with.

Remember that in the end, what’s often the most important is how someone treats you.  Is he or she kind, generous, and giving?  How about trustworthy and honest?  That’s what matters in life.

A final note to the guy on OkCupid:

I wear yoga pants when I’m not engaging in yoga (I may or may not be wearing them right now), and I have participated in a flash mob.  We are obviously not meant to be.

How to Win the Dating Game

July 30, 2014

I play mahjong.  It’s true.  I know I’m a bit younger than the average-aged player (though I’m not sure why it trends that way!), but I love my weekly mahjong games.  I play with a group of women every Sunday afternoon, and I always come with my shiny pink “I love mahjong” pouch filled with quarters.  Why quarters, you ask?  Because we gamble, too.  I once made out like a bandit, winning an all-time high of $3.75!

One of the reasons I love the game so much is that a large part of it is based on 3skill.  You have to figure out which hand (like in rummy) makes the most sense with the tiles you’re dealt, and then you have to strategically acquire the rest of your tiles to complete the hand.  (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just bear with me for another minute or so.)  You need to use methods that have worked in the past, you need to practice to better your skills, and you need to play pretty often to stay at the top of your game.  But, what if, after all of that, you still can’t win?  At that point, you just have to resign yourself to trying again next time because the rest of the game is up to timing, chance, and luck.  Sometimes you’ll have those working in your favor, and other times things just won’t go your way, no matter how well you played.

In the online dating game, much of your success will be due to hard work.  Online dating isn’t easy, which many people don’t realize.  They think they can just throw a mediocre profile up there and wait to see what happens.  That’s like walking into a bar and just plopping yourself on a stool without even trying to make conversation with anyone or signing up for a gym and assuming you’ll lose weight simply because your credit card is charged on the 15th of every month.  It’s just not going to work.  The first step is creating a profile that catches someone’s attention.  (Profile pointers here.)

But that’s not all!  Once you have that amazing profile online (and don’t forget the photos), then it’s time to start sending some emails to people who interest you.  I’m not talking about any old generic emails, either; I’m talking about thoughtful, unique emails that show the person of interest that you actually read his or her profile and took the time to craft an email.  Will it take some time and energy?  Absolutely.  Will it be worth it?  You bet.  (Email pointers here.)

Of course, though, just like in mahjong, sometimes you’ll write that witty email, tweak it a few times, and send it into the online abyss, only to receive nothing in response.  Even though you’re devoting the time and giving it your all, sometimes things just won’t go your way.  As hard as it may be, try not to take it personally.  There could be any number of reasons why someone doesn’t respond—you look like an ex, she’s on vacation, the email got lost in the inbox, or he just didn’t like your hair—but that’s okay.  Get back on the horse and try again because you’re bound to win your quarter… ahem, date… eventually.

We can do everything in our power to be the best we can be, either at mahjong or the online dating game, but in the end, timing, chance, and luck will play somewhat of a role in the process.  Don’t let it get you down.  If anything, it just means that you’re primed for a win (or a date) the next time.


Is “Manning Up” the Answer?

June 23, 2014

There was a very popular post written the other day by a blogger named Matt Walsh called, Dear Single Dudes: It’s Time to Man Up.  The gist of his article is that men are often commitment-phobic, and they need to get themselves into gear to stop messing around and to have a serious relationship.  I read the post in its entirety, which I would advise you to do as well, and then I made the following comment:

I have to agree with everything you said in the article, both as a woman and as a dating coach.  But I have to wonder… had I written the exact same thing but coming from a woman’s point of view, would I be tarred and feathered for looking like I’m bitter, or worse, asking for something that shouldn’t be asked? Just a thought… I totally agree with all of your sentiments, though, and these are ones I preach to my clients all the time.

This brings us to the question: Whose responsibility is it to “(wo)man up?”  I dare to say the responsibility lies in both camps.  It’s true—almost every woman I know, whether a client or a friend, whether 25 years old or 65 years old, wants much of what the article says.  In particular, she wants a partner who is decisive, proactive, commitment-minded, future-oriented, and ready to discuss hard topics.  Very few women want the man-boy who calls it “hanging out” or “talking” rather than “dating.”  The best advice I could give to any man is to be clear about what your intentions are up front.  If you’re looking for a serious relationship, then say so.  And if you’re not, then make that clear as well… half of the people on Tinder do!  I know we live in a “hook-up” society, in part due to technology and the ease with which we now plan our rendezvous, but the best thing you can do is to be honest and let her have the choice as to whether to stick around or not.

Now, for the ladies…

I hear complaints like this all the time:

“He won’t pick up the phone to call me.  I am so sick of texting!”

“He only contacts me once a week.  What’s up with that?”

“Why can’t he ask me before Friday if I’m free this weekend?”

All of these are, of course, valid questions and concerns.  But what’s not valid is not saying anything about them to the person you’re dating!  As much as we want them to be, people are not mind readers.  Even if we think we’re being as clear as a freshly washed glass door (I use this as an example because I walked into one recently—oops), we often dance around things that bother us until the other person figures them out… which rarely happens.  This leads to the demise of many a relationship, when often simply talking it through would resolve the problem.

Let’s take the example of texting.  In this day and age, the default is to text.  Running late?  Send a text.  Curious to know what someone’s up to later?  Send a text.  Ask someone out on a second date?  You guessed it.  I pose this question: If this overuse of texting bothers you, what do you do about it?  Too often, the answer is nothing.  If you allow the texting to go on by answering all the time and not mentioning that you would prefer a phone call, then your date/partner assumes that it’s okay.  In fact, very recently, a 54-year-old female client called me to ask what to do about a guy from who has been texting her since asking for her phone number.  She said, “He must be lazy!  Should I just ignore him?”  My response was, “Write him back saying, ‘Why don’t you give me a ring, and we’ll schedule a time to meet.’”

In life, many people end up being passive-aggressive or unclear when trying to get a message across.  The act of having a real, honest conversation about something that’s bothering you is a lost art, but it’s the foundation of a good relationship.  Rather than having little things, like the frustration with texting, add up until you can’t take it anymore, instead, you can ask yourself, “Have I mentioned that I would prefer a call sometimes?”  If the answer is no, then before you break up (likely via text, given the circumstances), have a conversation about your different communication styles, and try to find a middle ground.

Now, let’s get back to the bigger issue at hand.  Let’s say someone new in your life is not “manning up,” as Matt’s article suggests.  Try this on for size: Ask what he’s looking for.  If the answer is not to your liking, then it’s time to cut the ties before you get too invested.  Remember that you get what you allow, so by allowing the “problem” to go on, you’re sending the message that it’s not a problem at all.  It would be nice if, as women, we never had to pine for more, but as we know, that rarely happens.  If he’s not “manning up,” it’s time to speak up!  And if you then find out that he’s not ready for the serious relationship that you are, and your nudge doesn’t push him in that direction, then it’s time to take stock of what you want and go out there to find it.

The Intro Says It All


May 30, 2014

When you go to a bookstore, would you rather buy the book with the line, “This book is about a woman’s adventure and coming of age,” or the one with the line, “Read a rare tale about a woman’s 14-month trek through the Amazon to learn about love, hope, passion, and most importantly, herself”?  I know which I’d buy, and I’d venture to say that you would, too.

On most of the dating sites, just a few words of your profile are shown.  Someone needs to actively click on you to see the rest.  For that reason, it’s important to make the first sentence memorable in order to catch someone’s attention and make him or her want to click in the first place.

Believe it or not, when perusing online dating profiles, people are often using the same criteria as those from the bookstore.  I’m not saying that you have to include mystery, intrigue, and drama all within one sentence.  (In fact, drama is usually something people do not want to see in an online dating profile!)  What I am saying, though, is that you should consider the first line of your profile as a “hook.”  It should be something to draw people in.  With so many people using online dating sites and so many profiles to weed through, it’s best to take that one extra step to make sure you’re catching someone’s eye.

Below are some real examples from popular online dating sites of boring opening lines.  And then I’ll show a few examples that make the cut.

  • Yes, I am single. I am throwing it out there!

I sure hope you’re single if you’re using online dating!

  • For the past few years, I’ve lived under the assumption that I’d meet someone in my normal circles of work, friends, and activities.

I’d say most people would have made that assumption.  La dee da.

  • So… I have never done this online dating thing before, and I’m still on the fence about how I feel about it.

This one is not only boring, but it’s also negative. 

  • I enjoy life and like to have fun.

This is the worst!  Raise your hand if you don’t enjoy life and like to have fun.  I better not see any hands raised!

Ready for the examples of some great intros?  Here we go.

  • Being an engineer, the last time I wrote this profile, I approached it like a car engine… it functioned okay and got 32 miles/gallon, but it didn’t attract women.  (This was kind of a problem.)

He’s able to make fun of himself.  Many people see this as a very attractive quality in a partner since he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

  • I like extra salted buttered popcorn and malt balls at the movies.

She sounds like fun.  Heck – I want to get to know her!

  • Most people say that they don’t want drama in a relationship, right?  But what if your partner’s a theater teacher?  I think I just found the loophole.

This is hysterical.  Not only is it a commentary on dating, but it also shares what she does for a living and shows that she has a clever sense of humor. She gets an A.  

Even if two profiles were identical except for the first line, would you rather read one from the first grouping or one from the second?  Don’t let people pass you by simply because your first line bored them to sleep.  Remember: When they go to the online dating bookstore, you want them to leave with your profile… or at least smile and send you an email to say hello.


Catch a Date with “Email Bait”

April 24, 2014

Have you ever come across an online dating profile that you like, you want to send a message, and then you have a strong bout of writer’s block? It turns out you’re not alone. Many people have no idea what to say in an initial online dating email (or text, if we’re talking about apps) to show someone that they have an interest in communicating and potentially meeting. For this reason, it’s best to give these potential suitors (or suitoresses?) one more thing to comment about. In other words, provide them with some “email bait.”

In my old JDate profile (LovesLifeDC), I had a photo of myself singing the National Anthem. I got almost daily emails asking where I was singing and how I got the gig. (Answers: A Washington Nationals game. A good demo and a lot of persistence. It was one of the best nights of my life… until I almost ran out of gas on the way home. I’ll save that story for a rainy day.) This picture alone gave men the “in” they needed to strike up a conversation with me.

Other examples of some of my clients’ interesting pictures have been:
– A woman playing ice hockey in full gear
– A guy dressed as a clown since he performs for children every Sunday
– A woman climbing a tree at a winery
– A guy singing with a mariachi band
– A woman posing next to a sign saying “Completely Nuts” (Oh wait – that was me again!)

As a side note, I think I can speak for most of my fair gender when I say that we don’t care how big the fish you caught was. Compensating for something, perhaps? :)

To show a real-life example, I’m going to use a photo of yours truly:


This picture, while fine, is not really showing anything special.

Now, let’s look at this one:

Erika Performing

This picture instead shows me performing with Story League, something I like to do to get my creative juices flowing. It could easily generate questions like:

– Where are you speaking? (Busboys & Poets)
– Do you do that often? (Every month or two)
– What was that particular story about? (A text message gone awfully wrong)
– Do you always wear glasses? (Only if I want to see you from far away!)

These two pictures were taken the exact same night, but one would do much better online.

The moral: Many people have no idea what to say in the initial email, so give them something easy to comment about, or “email bait.”

Sharks Aren’t Sexy

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

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

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.