WHY HE COMPARTMENTALIZES HIS FEELINGS (UNDERSTANDING MEN)

When a woman complains that her man is distant — he seems emotionally unavailable and closed off, or isn’t making a move toward commitment — it’s usually because he is compartmentalizing his relationship with her.

There’s a mental box inside his brain with her name on it. When he feels like opening the box and enjoying the contents, he does. But when he’s done, he puts the lid on the box and places it back onto its shelf. The emotions he associates with this particular woman — angry, aroused, loving, calm, sad, etc. — also get packed away into the mental container. Over time, if a true emotional bond forms, her presence in his life won’t be so neatly walled off. But in the beginning stages, limiting her influence prevents him from being overwhelmed by a new romance.

it drives me crazy when my boyfriend compartmentalizes his feelings Robyn Wahlgast

If you’ve read many self-help articles aimed at women, you may have the idea that the male tendency to compartmentalize feelings and experiences is unhealthy. While it’s true that narcissism and emotional detachment can look a lot like compartmentalization, these are extreme and clinically rare examples. For most men, some compartmentalization is part of a normal coping strategy.

To better understand these masculine boundaries — which women often mistake for emotional unavailability — I invite you to examine compartmentalization from both male and female perspectives.

Consider these 3 observations:

1. For men, compartmentalization can be a useful approach to managing the complexities of life.

It is reflexive — he’s often not aware that he’s doing it.

2. To a woman on the receiving end, it can feel cold and mechanical, as if we’re being rejected.

Because it feels uncomfortable for us, we have a hard time accepting that it can be part of a healthy strategy for managing strong emotions.

3. Instead of automatically limiting a new man’s influence on her life, a woman is more likely to let him range freely across her heart and mind.

If she's not careful, she can quickly lose herself in the emotional rush. In fact, women who never learn to compartmentalize feelings at ALL are at risk of letting others free-range over them like a doormat; or wasting time on fantasy relationships; or becoming consumed with romantic obsessions.

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Men automatically sort women into categories, all day long. Here are some boxes you might already occupy without even knowing it:

  • Cute girl in his Instagram feed
  • Mystery woman on the A train
  • Work crush
  • Girl he'd love to have sex with on a regular basis until he meets The One
  • Future wife

From a man’s perspective, it’s reasonable to keep you in that box, peeking inside only when he feels like it. You exist for him at work, but not when he’s at home. You intrigue him on Saturdays at the dog park, but not on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. You don’t permeate his brain and keep him up at night. As most women have learned — often painfully — a man can avoid emotional intimacy through compartmentalization. For example, he might place you in the “attractive enough to flirt with (or sleep with)” category but NOT “future girlfriend or wife.” 

If you’ve experienced the pain of a man holding you at arm’s length, and you never want to go there again, what can you do? Now that you understand a man’s highly compartmentalized psyche, use this expert tip in your next relationship:

Work with his need to compartmentalize, instead of fighting against it.

You aren’t threatened by his boundaries, because you understand this is how he copes with new emotions and experiences. At the beginning of a relationship, he’s not ready to let you free-range across his thoughts. So in between dates, you are going to disappear. Your actions will speak to him on a deep level, in a way that insisting on connection can’t.

You will continue to date others, because your time is valuable and what if he waits a long time before resurfacing? If he is okay with leaving you alone for days in between dates...

Like a ghost, you'll be gone. 

Getting closer — if it's going to happen — has to be HIS idea. Remember, he has already placed you into some category, based on his instinctive assessment. It's not your job to prove to him that you deserve better than the "good enough for now" label. Read the signs and re-calibrate your level of interest and investment. If you want commitment and he's not feeling it, move on and date a man who sees right away that you're The One

In the early stages of dating, try putting your own feelings toward a new man in the “just getting to know you” box. Don’t let any new relationship completely take over your thoughts or seep into other areas of your life. Follow The Rules and you'll create just the right amount of distance to observe clearly which box he has placed you in. (It's his loss, if he coded you wrong.)

An emotional bond — which is what women usually mean by "being in love" — takes time to develop. When you proceed slowly and let him set the pace, he won't want to maintain distance. Getting closer will be his idea, and it will feel natural to him to put your relationship at the center of all he does.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Need advice about your own dating situation? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE.

BOYS BEHAVING BADLY (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)

Romantic situationships are a hot topic.

Many men and women believe that a non-committal, permanently casual situation is simply the modern version of a relationship — as if this is what passes for courtship in 2017. I’ve written about situationships before, using the term entanglement to describe a relationship that goes around and around in circles — for months or even years — but never leads to lasting commitment. That’s the kind of go-nowhere romance we’re talking about in this post.

Strategic texting — rather than emotional investment — is what holds situationships together. (From the web series Situationships)

Strategic texting — rather than emotional investment — is what holds situationships together. (From the web series Situationships)

Popular music, movies, and TV shows glorify situationships and contribute to the idea that "everyone is doing it." But what if your values don't align with hookup culture? And is everyone really so happy with no-strings affection?

Today I want to share with you my latest guilty pleasure, the web series Situationships, featuring the nicest of Nice Girls, Melody (played by show creator, Cylla Senii). Just coming into her own as a woman, she is on the brink of being fed up with non-relationships . . . but not quite ready to make the hard changes necessary to move on to something real.

I suggested to Cylla that it's time I gave Melody and the other female Situationships characters some sisterly "Rules" advice (from the book The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider). If these lovely ladies would just #DoTheRules and say no to the nonsense, they could take control of their dating lives and enjoy the lasting love they deserve.

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Melody in Episode 4: The agony of waiting and wondering about a man.

Melody in Episode 4: The agony of waiting and wondering about a man.

Here are quotes from Melody and her friends, on accepting less than they deserve from the men in their lives. When a girlfriend shares any of these thoughts, you know she is in a situationship rather than a relationship:

  • “We have really great chemistry. He loves me . . . when we’re together.”
  • “There’s no need for us to be formal, like, I’m your girlfriend and you’re my boyfriend. We’re . . . together.”
  • “I hate him so much.”
  • “He’s been ignoring my texts all day. I know he’s not dead because he’s on Instagram and Twitter.”
  • “I’m not going to fall for his b-s this time.”
  • “I don’t really trust guys. No one likes to commit anymore.”

It's hard to break away from the pack and set your own standards. Female friends and relatives don't always set the best example. And they can feel silently judged when you start living by The Rules. It's a lonely path, sometimes. But, ladies, if you are tired of living in limbo, wondering where he is and whether he really loves you, please know this:

There is another way.

Following are relationship tips for Melody and any woman who is tired of situationships . . . .

Ladies, don’t give away all your power.

Men will be lazy if women allow it. That doesn’t mean guys are all players and commitment-phobes, but just that it’s human nature to take if the other person is willing to give. You can control the give-and-take game. YOU can re-set the rules any time you want.

Some women think, But if I don’t give him what he wants, he will just move on to the next girl. Well, he might. Listen, you will eventually meet a great guy who shares your values. Mr. Right won’t treat the game of love like it’s one-sided — all about getting HIS needs met. Your Mr. Right will look at everything from a “we” perspective — he’ll see you as part of his team and he’ll make decisions around YOUR needs, too. Until then, don’t hand over all your power to a man who is gaming against you.

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When you've been "together" for 2 years and he does what?!

When you've been "together" for 2 years and he does what?!

Admit that some part of your in-love feeling is chemical addiction.

I know this isn’t a very romantic spin. But be aware that the “infatuation chemical” called dopamine can affect the brains of men and women very differently. When you daydream about your crush, the anticipation of being together produces lots of dopamine, which further increases your feeling of infatuation. When two people feel a connection, this buzz can be amplified through non-sexual contact such as locking eyes, touching hands, and even simple physical nearness. Make no mistake: This feeling is NOT love. Though pleasurable, it is NOT a foundation for anything lasting.

The reason I advise women to wait as long as possible before getting intimate with a man is because having sex can temporarily shut off your man's seemingly obsessive interest in you by shutting down his dopamine production. If he is not already emotionally bonded, then this sugar crash will leave him empty and ready to move on to someone new.

No, casual isn't comfortable.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable about “hanging out” indefinitely. You should feel angry and indignant and hurt. Don’t say things like “I’m not looking for anything serious right now” or “but the sex is so hot” or “I can handle it.” Those opinions sound brave and empowered, but all you’re doing is allowing the Players to frame things their way.

Of course there are women who enjoy a no-strings adventure. But when a situationship goes on for weeks and months, it is very likely that YOU will become more attached, while he becomes a little more distant. When Steve Harvey advised ladies to “think like a man” he didn’t mean that we should stuff down our naturally feminine emotions and needs. Listen to your inner voice — she’ll never steer you wrong.

A Man’s View

You can’t change your relationship status by crying, nagging, or complaining about the one-sidedness. That’s because a man is generally okay with the situation as it is. As The Rules say, you need to shake things up with your actions. Author and Life Coach Sylvester McNutt III sums it up this way: “Why would I elevate this person to relationship status when I’m already receiving all the benefits that they’re willing to give?” He goes on to advise that if you’re currently in a situationship and dissatisfied, “maybe you need to consider removing those benefits.”

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The cast of Situationships. 

The cast of Situationships

What’s Next for Melody?

In Episode 5, when a gorgeous stranger (Tarion Taylor) bumps into Melody on the street and attempts to ask her out, her skeptical response is “Really. Are we doing this?” In that moment we know: Melody has what it takes to become a Rules Girl. But will she?

Before too much time passes, I would like to see Melody wearing something sparkly on her left hand. Marriage is a man’s ultimate expression of love and respect for a woman. Somewhere there is a king without a queen, and I KNOW he will snap Melody up quickly if he can find her. Is she tired enough of situationships and ready for the real thing?

Be sure to subscribe and comment at the Situationships Channel and let the writers know YOUR thoughts. Should somebody give Melody a copy of The Rules?

xoxo
Robyn

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Need advice about your own dating situation? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

HOW TO DATE A SHY GUY (UNDERSTANDING MEN)

Many of us, it seems, like shy guys. (I like smart, nerdy, shy guys so much, I married one.) It's not surprising: these men tend to be quiet leaders — successful and widely respected. There is an art to dating introverted men, though, and this article will help you decide if this personality type is your best match. The good news is that you don't need to be an introvert to date one. But to keep your romantic energy in balance, you will want to follow some basic rules.

Many women mistakenly assume that being overly friendly and “easy to get will reassure the Shy Guy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many women mistakenly assume that being overly friendly and "easy to get" will reassure the Shy Guy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being "easy" and laying everything out on a plate will actually make him retreat further into his shell. You'll be pursuing him, so your energy will shift from being feminine to masculine, and that's not healthy or sexy (for you or for him) in the long run. Relationships that start out with this dynamic never really recover, and as months and years pass, you may find yourself in a sexless "just friends"/ roommate arrangement.

how to date a shy guy

If you are crushing on a shy guy, I definitely recommend that you read The Rules, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. My advice will make a lot more sense if you're already familiar with the basic concept of letting a man lead and set the pace of the relationship.

Regardless of personality type, men are happiest when allowed to discover love at their own pace. If the relationship moves forward, it's because he chooses and wants to lead toward commitment. If a man tends toward an introverted personality, it’s even more important that you let him lead. Extroverts can hold their own and fight fire with fire. But if you admire a man with a more subtle style, you have to be careful not to overwhelm him with your eagerness, or nudge him into "going along" passively with your agenda. You could find yourself in an entanglement with a man who's not really sure how or why he got there.   

Always let him lead. Don't get tangled up with a man who's not sure how or why he got there.

Here are 7 observations and comments from clients over the past year. See if any of these situations sound familiar:

  1. “I really like this guy at work, but if I don't suggest it we'll never actually go on a date.”
  2. “The guy I’m interested in doesn’t seem to know what he’s supposed to do to date me.”
  3. “The Rules describe an old-fashioned way of dating that doesn’t exist anymore.”
  4. “Men my age don’t know how to date.”
  5. “My crush is really shy. His ex-wife really messed him up. I can only do some of The Rules with him.”
  6. “If I want him to treat me like a lady I have to tell him what to do every step of the way.”
  7. “We’re both grown-ups. I know he doesn’t want to play games and neither do I. Shouldn't I make an exception for him?”

The Secret

If you identify with any of these situations, I will let you in on a secret: the “problem” in each of these scenarios is not that the man is shy or inexperienced. The underlying issue is that he is just not interested enough in starting up a relationship with that particular woman.

Bcbg Max Azria Group, LLC

Guys who aren’t THAT into you may still sleep with you and hang out” with you if you make it easy. Is that what you want?

Sure, he’d be okay with having casual sex with her and hanging out until something better comes along. But I don’t know many women who enjoy being the good-enough-for-now option. If each woman in situations 1 - 7 were to get the ball rolling herself, or help the man date her and make excuses for his behavior, she would simply be prolonging the agony of being in a go-nowhere entanglement. That's not "dating a shy man," that's accepting crumbs from a guy who is just killing time.

That's not “dating a shy man. That's accepting crumbs from a guy who is just killing time.

Let’s go through these scenarios, one by one, and note the difference between a true Shy Guy and one whose feelings are simply lukewarm:

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  1. “I really like this guy at work, but if I don't suggest it we'll never actually go on a date.” My take: As I’ve written many times before, you should never make the first move or ask a man out IF what you want is a long-term relationship leading to marriage. All the reasons are here. Shy guys DO approach, date, and marry women when they feel motivated to do so.
  2. “The guy I’m interested in doesn’t seem to know what he’s supposed to do to date me.” My take: Men are incredibly resourceful when there’s a problem that needs to be solved. Whether his car is making a weird noise or the latest iPhone update wiped all his data — he will head over to YouTube and learn how to fix it. If he really wants to ask you out / impress you / propose, he has a million ways to figure out how.
  3. “The Rules describe an old-fashioned way of dating that doesn’t exist anymore.” My take: If you are consistently meeting men who only want to hang out or “cook dinner” at his place, and not go out on proper dates, then you have two choices: 1) Just say no to hang-out dates and see if he offers an alternative; 2) Learn how to screen men better. If you’re online dating, these tips will help you screen out players and other guys who want to keep things permanently casual. 
  4. “Men my age don’t know how to date.” My take: Women in every age category can feel like their situation is the worst. As a dating coach I know first-hand that you all have an equal shot at meeting your Mr. Right — at any age. Consider dating men who are 5-7 years older than you, if you're just going around in circles with men your own age or younger. Remember: men are resourceful. If he’s interested enough to learn what your standards are, he can figure out how to meet them.
  5. “My crush is really shy. His ex-wife really messed him up. I can only do some of The Rules with him.” My take: When a man heaps all the blame for a break-up on his ex, consider it a Buyer Beware. Just keep your eyes open, guard your heart, and do The Rules. No exceptions.
  6. “If I want him to treat me like a lady I have to tell him what to do every step of the way.” My take: Make sure you are taking good care of yourself. Dress your best, be your best, and say No to any behavior you don’t like. Men will make the effort to figure out what you want if they like you enough to do so. Whatever you do, don’t micromanage your date. Just move on if he has decided you aren’t worth investing in.
  7. “We’re both grown-ups. I know he doesn’t want to play games and neither do I. Shouldn't I make an exception for him?” My take: Date with an open heart and strict boundaries. That’s what emotionally healthy men and women do. But you still have to pace the relationship so that the initial spark has time to develop into deeper feelings. It’s unreasonable to expect instant bonding over that first glass of Merlot. Doing The Rules allows you both to take your time.

Men are resourceful. Whether his car is making a weird noise or the latest iPhone update wiped all his data — he will head over to YouTube and learn how to fix it. If he really wants to impress you, he has a million ways to figure out how.

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"Like a beautiful butterfly she shimmers just out of reach." - Robyn Wahlgast

As Rules women know, we don’t “do the rules” on men. We do The Rules on ourselves, stripping away negative behaviors and replacing them with healthy behaviors that naturally allow attraction to build. The Rules definitely do work within any relationship, with any man. If a man isn’t a good fit for you, The Rules will “work” by revealing early on that you are incompatible. That may seem like a disappointing result at first, but it's a powerful gift in the long run. 

Sometimes The Rules work by eliminating incompatible men from your life. That's a powerful gift in the long run.

Since you’re not approaching men (by asking for their help or inviting them for coffee), the rules will help you avoid players and pick-up artists as well as looky-loos—dudes who stare at you or flirt or “favorite” your online profile, but who never actually ask you out. You won’t get caught up in go-nowhere entanglements or affairs with unavailable men.

So how should you behave with a truly “shy” or inexperienced man?

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The best way to deal with an introvert is to match his actions and level of interest. And then dial it back even further. Don't lean in lean back. If you are naturally an extrovert, that's cool. You don't need to pretend to be an introvert in order to attract one. Always bring your unique vibe to the dating game. Dial down your effort, not your charm. Study my flirting tips if you want to know how to enchant a man who tends toward a more subtle, quiet personality. WAIT until he asks you out – don’t make the first move. And once you’re on a date, make sure you show him your most feminine, vulnerable qualities.  

Dial down your effort, not your charm.

The inexperienced man is very often a diamond in the rough and will make a wonderful partner in the long run. He may have been married previously or in a series of long-term relationships — he likes and values female companionship — but he hasn’t dated much in a formal sense, and seems confused or tentative when dealing with women in a romantic setting. 

The inexperienced” man could be someone who married his high school sweetheart and now, years later, finds himself single. He values female companionship but has little formal dating experience.

Because he appears to need help in approaching you and setting up dates, you might be tempted to bend rules for him or to assume that he is an exception to the rules. That would be a mistake. He may appear to be passive, but that’s usually just a temporary switch that got flipped by the various women in his life — his overly helpful sister, exes, and coworkers. Remember: If a bachelor has a steady job and is reasonably well-groomed and moderately attractive, then he has women approaching him at the gym, at work, contacting him first on POF and eHarmony, and generally showing him attention. He may be surrounded by a near-harem of female "helpers."

The shy” or inexperienced man is like a turtle: when women chase after him he retreats deeper into his shell.

When a man is used to being guided and micromanaged by women, it can become a behavioral pattern that is both comfortable for him and hard to break. That doesn’t mean he is satisfied or happy with that dynamic, or that he isn't capable of pursuing you if he’s motivated to do so. The inexperienced man is like a turtle: when women chase after him he retreats deeper into his shell. What he responds to best is a woman with a light, feminine touch; like a beautiful butterfly, she shimmers just out of reach. By not “helping” him date you, you are letting him know that you see him as the competent adult man that he is. That may be a message he is starved to hear. If he approaches you and you start dating, trust that he can figure out what to do. Your confidence in him will inspire him to do his best. If he is paying attention and trying to learn your preferences, then he is a keeper.  

What he responds to best is a woman with a light, feminine touch. Like a beautiful butterfly, she shimmers just out of reach.

His lapses into "helpless" dating behavior may tempt you to grab the steering wheel. Don't do it. Just relax, take a break with your girlfriends, and trust that your faith in him will bring out his inner Gentlemen’s Rules.  

The shy” man wants to be with a woman who trusts him to give her his best.

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You don’t need to bend rules or weaken your boundaries in order to attract a particular man. In fact, if you feel like you have to break rules to get things started or to keep a relationship going, something is wrong — he's not truly interested or available. There is a real art to dating the inexperienced man — some women just lose steam (and confidence) with this guy, while others blossom as his attraction and drive builds. The next time you find yourself struggling to be Rulesy, mentally lighten up and visualize yourself as that beautiful butterfly. If it's still not working, consider that you may simply be dating a man whose style isn’t compatible with yours. The kindest action you can take is to release him to date others while you continue to search for your best match.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Need advice about your own dating situation? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

THE PERFECT GIFT FOR ANY MAN

Women are like this: We experience absolute JOY through the act of gift-giving. Forget Valentine's Day, we'd happily exchange jewelry and trinkets with our friends each and every day. What else is a "friendship" bracelet but a little girl's first expression of affection? This is how women bond with each other. We create connection through the exchange of gifts.

While men certainly enjoy receiving presents from loved ones, it is not a key part of male bonding. (You don’t see many friendship bracelets being exchanged in the man cave.) In fact, an emotional bond has to exist FIRST, before a man can truly relish receiving that carefully-researched antique whatsit you purchased for him on eBay. For you, receipt of such a precious gift would make you feel deeply connected to the giver. For him... not so much. That expensive token of affection is just not the path to his heart. (In fact, if he hints that his taste does run to expensive toys and timepieces, RUN the other way, because he is not your Mr. Right.)

A man has to be emotionally bonded, first, before a woman's gift really speaks to his heart.

With the gifting season upon us, let’s take a minute to focus on that difference in gender wiring:

  • When a woman receives a gift, she often feels more emotionally bonded to the giver. Her affections may actually grow over time, through the receipt of small presents. She is wired to appreciate this form of acknowledgment and to feel cherished through it.
  • A man has to be emotionally bonded, first, before a woman's gift really speaks to his heart. You can't coax him into loving you more by giving him things. As his love bond grows, a mature man takes far greater satisfaction in assuming the role of giver, rather than receiver. He feels cherished when a woman acknowledges and appreciates all that he gives to her.

If you’re already in a deeply committed relationship, then you and your mate know best what that perfect present looks like — whether it’s a special experience, a “we” gift, or simply the celebration of another year together as a family.

But when you are newly dating, and don’t yet know quite where the relationship is headed, female instincts might incorrectly lead you into an over-giving frenzy. Given how men are wired, you now know that less is more when buying a present for your guy. Since I know it’s in your nature to splurge, and you don’t want to “just” buy him a hardcover about his favorite sports hero — here are 3 additional presents you are welcome to spoil him with as much as you wish:

  1. Appreciation — for all he gives you and all he does for you.
  2. Femininity — When you embrace and express your femininity, you give him permission to find joy in being male. There is no shaming or blaming for our intrinsic differences.
  3. Vulnerability — Stripping away the polished exterior you may need to wear at work, and relaxing into a softer, more authentic you.  

Because there is a lot of confusion about what it means to be vulnerable in an emotionally healthy way, I want to leave you with some tips for bringing your vulnerability to the surface. (To be clear, this never involves placing yourself in an unsafe situation or relationship. Quite the opposite. An emotionally healthy woman requires a foundation of trust and respect before she can connect in a vulnerable way.)

Bring your vulnerability to the surface with a man you trust.

To unlock your softer side, take off your hyper-responsible “professional” or “parent” mask, and don’t worry about earning an A+. You’re safe here. Go ahead and give yourself permission to:

  • Be at a loss for words.
  • Be unprepared.
  • Blush.
  • Pass, instead of answering every question.
  • Don’t think up a witty comeback.
  • Be confused.
  • Forget.
  • Misplace your car keys.
  • Laugh at yourself, at life, at him(!)
  • Be playful
  • Be irresponsible
  • Relax

Your authentic vulnerability may turn out to be the most exquisite present of all — a surprisingly powerful gift that sets him free to be his best, truest self with you.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY CREATED, WITH LOVE, FOR THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

14 WAYS TO SHINE YOUR BRIGHTEST ON VALENTINE'S DAY

Women are wonderful gift-givers. We take pleasure in selecting thoughtful, personal presents for those we love. My best friend’s birthday is in November, but if I spot her favorite Murano glass beads in June, I’m buying them. It’s so fun to know exactly what she likes and to shop year-round with her tastes in mind.

When it comes to a man you are dating, however, it’s best to refrain from shopping for him as if he’s your closest girlfriend. Women instinctively know that men aren’t pining for flowers, jewelry, and chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but the “giver” in us doesn’t always know what to substitute instead“What should I get him for Valentine’s Day?” is always a top relationship question at this time of year.

14 ways to shine your brightest this Valentine's Day

If we shift our focus from “buying things” to the most authentic form of giving, the answer comes naturally — it’s you that he most wants — you are, already, the best gift he could ever receive.

When you are truly comfortable in your skin, relaxed, and peaceful, you will naturally support and love him the way he longs for. He gets to pamper and spoil you without being forced into a competition to see who can outspend the other. You aren’t trying to upstage him with basketball tickets or a fancy watch, you’re letting him shine, too. Your genuine receptiveness and gratitude are way more romantic than any expensive toy.

Instead of heading to the mall, choose to get in the Valentine's spirit a little differently this year. Pick your favorite ways to unwind and refresh from the list below — or create your own — and your man will sigh in relief at this truly feminine gift. (And if you're celebrating solo this year, really do it up: a woman who embraces her femininity loves love in all its forms.)

  1. Call a friend and go for a talk-and-walk.
  2. Take a yoga class.
  3. Book a deep tissue massage, seaweed wrap, or other sensual body treatment. Your body works hard for you. Without judgement, appreciate all that it does.
  4. Scan your kitchen cabinets and pull out foods that trigger over-eating, like potato chips, cookies, muffins. Discard opened packages and donate the rest.
  5. Visit your local animal shelter and consider adopting a pet. If adoption isn't practical for you, visit anyway, and donate items from their wishlist.
  6. Book a double beauty appointment with your mom or a girlfriend or sister. Treat her to a mani-pedi, makeup tutorial, highlights, or another service that she wouldn't ordinarily splurge on.
  7. Search YouTube for one new type of fitness activity you’re curious about. Choose a video and follow along.
  8. Learn to prepare one new fruit or vegetable — something you’ve never liked or something exotic you’ve been intimidated to try.
  9. Take a long bath, sprinkle your sheets with perfume, then take a 20-minute nap.
  10. Choose a perfume, body spray, or essential oil mix to wear daily. (Hint: Men prefer deliciously warm “food” scents like vanilla and pumpkin spice.)
  11. Light candles and meditate for 20 minutes. Visualize beautiful places, real or imaginary.
  12. Bag up unused clothes and belongings and donate them to a local church or charity.
  13. Research nonprofit organizations in your community. Choose to adopt one whose mission you support. Make a donation.
  14. Think of a recent achievement your guy is proud of. Plan to ask him about it when you see him so that he can replay the event, even if you’ve heard the story 100 times. (Try this tip with friends and family members, too — giving someone permission to brag can be an incredible gift.)

Celebrating a holiday or birthday should never be about proving your worth or earning a man’s love. Release yourself from that kind of obligation and stress. Once you accept that you are his jewel, take pleasure in shining your brightest for him.

The essence of femininity is hopefulness — for the future, for humanity, and for love in all its forms.

Over the years I've worked alongside male surgeons, engineers, construction workers, and all kinds of guys from incredibly varied backgrounds. There are some common themes in the man cave. One is that, in general, men are not actively encouraged to "celebrate hopefulness." Instead, we raise boys to be practical and vigilant — always on the lookout for threats, prepared for attack. Workplace banter tends toward the dark and cynical, and a man isn't typically rewarded for "rainbows and unicorns" thinking. But as a woman, you have the power to choose a different path. You can bring lightness to a world view that is (sometimes) pretty dark. Don't be shamed into going along with bitterness, or hiding what feels true to you. Instead, shine your brightest. Believe in love. That is one of your greatest gifts to the world.

READ NEXT: THE PERFECT GIFT FOR ANY MAN

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

This article was originally created, with love, for The Wellness Universe.

BRINGING ROMANCE BACK IN OVER-40 DATING

The 40+ dating scene can feel pretty confusing at times. On the surface, adulting may look tame and business-like, but there’s a lot of pent-up energy under all the baggage of divorce, estrangement, and break-ups. Even if (most) single, mature women aren’t sashaying around like the singers from Fifth Harmony, it’s normal and healthy to want to “flex” for that Mr. Wonderful you’ve been on a few dates with. You want him to kiss you, put his hands in your hair, and just generally make you feel 22 again — even if you’re perfectly content to actually be 47.

So how do you turn up the heat in a way that feels age-appropriate?

True glamour is ageless. (Monica Bellucci, actress.)

True glamour is ageless. (Monica Bellucci, actress.)

Here are some tips for igniting romance when you’re starting fresh and playing for keeps:

TIP #1: Take it slow.

I know it has been way too long, you’ve never felt this way about a man before (seems like), and you’re longing to feel his arms around you. But be patient, girl. It’s no fun to be a man’s soft landing or rebound girl, after his heart was broken by The One and before he moves on to The Next One. Men respect you more and will find you more alluring when you have high standards.

TIP #2: Let him lead.

Just because you CAN make the first move doesn’t mean you should. As we age it can be easy for male and female energies to blur, either due to hormonal shifts or simply because we get used to living alone and compensating for a missing partner. Polarity is necessary to spark sexual attraction. While you may think you are doing nothing or “letting a great opportunity slip by,” it’s best to hold back and wait for him to move things forward if you want to progress beyond friendship.

TIP #3: Move on quickly if it’s not meant to be.

Don’t try to force a connection with a man who isn’t feeling it. He might say It’s not you, it’s him, and he’s not looking to start something serious. In man-speak, that translates into he’s not looking to start something serious. Don't be the woman who works hard to convince him otherwise, or who tries to earn his affection and attention. If he expresses any kind of hesitation, respect his honesty but don’t settle for a friends-with-benefits situation that will just leave you feeling empty.

TIP #4: Don’t forget to flirt.

Master flirts are so good at making men feel like men that they don’t even realize what they are doing. A great flirt wears feminine, form-fitting clothing, always smells wonderful, and lets her date order for her, open doors, and take the lead in conversational topics. Being ladylike, in general, is flirtatious. It telegraphs that you know your date is a man and you are behaving differently with him than you would with a pack of girlfriends. That is the essence of flirting — revealing your most feminine side with a member of the opposite sex. (For more tips on being light and breezy on dates even if you feel anything but read "How To Be An Unforgettable Flirt.")

Whatever you do, don’t buy into the idea that romance is dead and hook-up culture has replaced courtship. Just because singles now connect through apps like Hinge and Tinder doesn’t mean that our fundamental needs and desires have changed. Remember when guys used to honk their car horns at cute girls, an earlier form of swiping right? All that hope and excitement is still there. But now you are old enough to really savor it, taking it slow with someone who appreciates the chance to start something real — with you.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

THE EASY FIX THAT INSTANTLY TURNS YOU INTO A KNOCKOUT

Walk Like An Angel

Each year, hundreds of women send me pictures of their favorite date outfits and their online dating profiles, so that I can help them present themselves in the most attractive way possible. While your hairstyle and clothing definitely deserve a thorough assessment, don't overlook another important X factor — key to your entire presentation of yourself — that doesn't always show up in a photo: your posture.

Don't overlook an important X factor, key to your entire presentation of yourself: your posture.

Don't overlook an important X factor, key to your entire presentation of yourself: your posture.

WHAT MEN THINK

How you stand and carry yourself is a critical part of your overall appeal. While most men won't consciously evaluate your posture — it's not a detail they're going to comment on or discuss — it absolutely colors how they (and others) perceive you. Are you a potential girlfriend or a "buddy"? Your posture — along with how you dress and take care of yourself — signals how you expect others to treat you, and has an impact on your workplace relationships, family relationships, and romance.

Here's an excerpt from the Rules Revisited blog that illustrates the male perspective. It's worth reading the entire post but in this passage, Andrew describes how a female friend (one he typically rates “between a 7 and a 10") transforms their power dynamic simply by standing up straight. Now that she exhibits Beauty Queen poise, she seems out of his league, and he can't take her interest in him for granted:

“But here is perhaps the most interesting and telling part: when this girl corrected her posture, I felt a distinct pang of intimidation. It surprised and dismayed me, because I was sure until that moment that I had this girl wrapped around my finger. Suddenly the roles were decidedly reversed.... What if she had appeared that way when I first met her? And if she had maintained it, would I have ever been able to gain the upper hand? This is the power of posture.”

If you're willing to invest time, effort, and money in your clothing, hair, and makeup, wouldn't it be smart to make sure you rock those outfits at full potential? 

"It's time to put away your phone and engage that core!"

"It's time to put away your phone and engage that core!"

YOUR PHONE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND WHEN IT COMES TO MAINTAINING GOOD POSTURE

  • Shoulders that slump forward
  • A head that bows down
  • A tummy that pooches out
  • Pain in the lower back and neck; headaches
  • Low-energy feeling, even after 8 hours of sleep

These are all signs that it's time to take a break from texting and put away your phone or whatever kind of screen you're using.    

Notice that in this before/after photo, the corrected posture shows a healthy curve in the lower back (c-curve), shoulder blades that are "activated" toward the center of the back, and an engaged core (the abdominal area). 

QUICK TIP FOR SLUMPED SHOULDERS

If your shoulders are a problem area, you've probably been told to "relax" them down and back. The result is not usually long-lasting because that cue doesn't teach you how to engage the right muscles. For the moment, forget about your shoulders. Instead, try to "activate" the center of your back — the part in between your shoulder blades (Lower Trapezius muscles, in case you want to research this a bit further). Visualize those back muscles pulling your shoulder blades down and together, as if they could touch at the spine. If you can practice this sensation throughout the day, you will begin to "warm up" an area of the back that often becomes frozen during screen-time, driving, and office work. Direct massage, chest-opening yoga postures like upward dog, and training with hand-held weights are all good ways to target that middle back area. 

Another prop you might try is a soft fabric posture corrector. There are many different brands available — comb through the reviews on Amazon — ranging from around $15 to $75. I road-tested the EquiFit "Shoulders Back" Lite for one of my daughters. (I wanted to make sure it was comfortable enough to wear at least an hour a day before I recommended it to her.) I liked the Shoulders Back so much that I ended up ordering a second one for myself, just to wear during computer time. If you try out one of these braces, please make sure you wear it over a T-shirt; no corrector is comfortable enough to wear over bare skin. Bonus: You can even wear one under a sweater or jacket, while you run errands! Wearing it several hours at a time can help you feel and activate that key middle back area. Hint: These braces do not cover your breasts, so bra cup size is not an issue; an EquiFit Medium will fit a woman wearing a 34-38 bra. 

Watching This Victoria's Secret Runway Video Could Save You $2,100 In Bodywork

HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR CORE 

After the birth of my first child, I could tell that my spine was out of whack. Even though my weight was back to normal I just didn't look right in my work clothes — everything hung differently. A friend who worked for Vogue suggested that I visit a massage therapist named Mike Bulger who practiced something called structural integration; the magazine had just featured him in their health section and apparently Oprah was one of his happy clients. I agreed to try 10 sessions. Two months later — at at a cost of roughly $2,100 — I was realigned and pain-free. Yes, the structural manipulation had been very beneficial, and I am eternally grateful to Mike. But, also, a tip that Mike shared with me somewhere in our first session was the breakthrough concept that I had needed to incorporate into my day-to-day life

Mike told me that during all activities — whether sitting, standing, or walking — you should lead with your pelvis. (He truly meant "lead with your core" — which includes the abdominal region as well — but for beginners the pelvic area is easier to identify.) That's it: lead with your core.

And if you watch these Victoria's Secret models strut down the runway, you will see this principle in action. Leading with the pelvis does cause your chest to pop out a little (because of that lovely c-curve in your spine) but it's very different from consciously trying to thrust your breasts forward in a forced way, or yanking your shoulders down and back, which can be painful and difficult to maintain.   

Of course, models walking a runway are amplifying and exaggerating each movement for effect; it's theater. That's not exactly how you're going to parade around the office. But if you've been having trouble maintaining "straight" posture while you walk, move, and do everyday activities, then shifting your focus southward may help.

CHANGE YOUR POSTURE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Did you know that consciously addressing your posture can have a deep impact on every area of your life? If you are feeling stuck in your career, your relationships, or with your family, I encourage you to watch this 20-minute TED talk from social psychologist Amy Cuddy. She talks about how “power posing” can affect how your brain functions and, ultimately, your chances for satisfying employment, interpersonal relationships, and success in general. Her research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions—and even our own body chemistry—simply by changing body positions. 

NO PRETZEL POSES, PLEASE

Finally, if you're looking for a fun and pleasurable way to improve your posture, yoga is both inexpensive and effective. Foundation postures like cobra and the sun salutation flow are a wonderful way to wring out the tension and help build up that sexy core. Don't worry about doing them perfectly. These flows are about lengthening and strengthening your muscles, and should feel good. And if your body becomes more toned and graceful as a result, what's not to like? 

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

NO, DON'T ASK FOR HIS HELP OR INVITE HIM FOR COFFEE

Last month we talked about the difference between a Relationship (which has the potential to progress toward commitment) and an Entanglement (a permanently “casual” situation that can only lead around and down, never forward).

Past the age of 25, most women view entanglements as a painful waste of time and prefer to avoid them. You want to invest in a future with a man who cherishes you, not just "hang out" with a man who doesn't think you're worth locking down. If that’s where you’re at, I’ve got 2 practical steps you can follow to avoid ever getting involved in an entanglement. In this post we’ll talk about Step #1:

Step #1: A beautiful, desirable woman — that’s you —should never approach a man first, whether in real life or online.

Why you should never approach a man first

This is advice that feels right to many women. Yet, we allow ourselves to get talked out of what we know, intuitively, is natural and feminine. Modern culture doesn't always value authentic femininity. It is popular for friends, family, and dating experts to encourage you to take the initiative with men because those folks only listen half-way to what you say you want: more men, more dates, more attractive options.

It’s true: Making the first move with guys will DEFINITELY get you more action than passively waiting. It will get you out of that dry spell and into the arms of... men who just aren’t that into you. That’s why “you’ve got nothing to lose” advice doesn’t satisfy your deepest needs. Because no matter how lonely you may feel today, you don’t just want “more” experiences—more unreturned texts, more non-date hangouts leading to sex—you want quality experiences. That’s what you mean when you say you are tired of being single. You want to be loved by a man who sees you as his Forever And Always lady, not just a Good Enough For Now girl.

So let’s dig into some truths about cool women — like you — making the first move with men:

#TRUTH 1 — Yes, asking for help is an approach.

Any action that gets you and him talking or texting is initiating contact. Just recognize it for what it is. If he didn’t walk over, call, or text first, then you made the first move.

#TRUTH 2 — No, approaching men first doesn’t convey confidence.

Instead, it suggests you don’t believe you are WORTH approaching. You lack confidence in your desirability. It’s the equivalent of sending yourself a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day. As if you think passionate male attention is for other, more beautiful/perfect/skinny/whatever women. In the end, taking on the guy’s role can actually make you feel worse about yourself as a woman. Not very empowering.

#TRUTH 3 — Yes, certain men will enjoy it when you make things easy for them.

Men who aren’t truly available — married or otherwise taken — prefer to take a passive approach to finding fun on the side. Aggressive chasing is too risky for a cheater, and he feels less guilty if you are the one to initiate pursuit. Likewise, you may be successful with bored single men looking for a distraction, or lonely guys who appreciate your effort but who will never be starry-eyed over you.

#TRUTH 4 — No, you won’t miss out on legit, nice, shy guys if you stop pursuing men.

I think shy, awkward, nerdy men are totally hot — so much so that I married one. So believe me when I tell you that you never have to make the first move with a shy guy. Approaching a pretty woman is like a really hard math puzzle — smart men thrive on the challenge and keep trying until the problem is solved. If he wants you badly enough, even the most clueless dude will eventually figure out how to get you one-on-one.

#TRUTH 5 – Yes, you may end up going on fewer dates than your friends.

You know that co-worker who messages every cute guy she sees on POF? Maybe she enjoys the drama and anxiety of never knowing where she stands with those men—but probably she doesn’t. Maybe she’s just afraid that if she doesn’t make an effort she’ll “miss out” on some Prince Charming. Instead, value quality over quantity.

Look, sometimes you just have to be a rebel: stop doing what everyone else is doing. Well-meaning people think they are helping you when they say you should just "get closure" with that cute guy you've been crushing on for months. Instead, stick to The Rules of dating. Let men approach you first. This is the first and most important way to make sure you never, ever, find yourself wasting time with someone who doesn't truly value and appreciate all that you are. 

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE

WANT TO ATTRACT THE BEST MEN? DRESS LIKE A BOSS!

This post is for any single woman who is ready to move on from hookups and casual encounters to the real deal: lasting love. You want an upgrade.

One of the fastest, easiest ways to level-up the type of men you are dating is to refresh your overall look and appearance.

Sometimes the person holding you back from becoming a total knockout is… you. Here are some limiting beliefs my clients have expressed—see if you can relate:

  • “I’ve been told my whole life that looks shouldn’t matter to your true soulmate.”
  • “My older sister was always the pretty one. My younger sister was cute. I was just the chubby one.”
  • “I just don’t see myself that way. I tried a personal shopper but didn’t buy anything she picked out. There’s no way I could show up at work looking like that. Much dressier than my comfort level.”
  • “My friends and I go shopping together. We often buy the same things. They would completely freak if they saw my new date clothes.”
  • “I know, my look is artsy hippie, but that’s the type of guy I like. I don’t want to date cookie cutter men. You have to have the right bait to catch the fish you want.”
How you dress tells men how you want to be treated.

Each woman is expressing a completely valid and understandable view, based on her own life experience. It would be nice if each one could just keep doing what she’s doing and stumble into the perfect relationship. The problem is that all this over-thinking is lost on the men they are encountering. A man can only see what you present to him.

While it certainly is true that men are visual creatures, that does not mean that they are always able to visualize the sexy creature hiding beneath your Minecraft T-shirt and droopy cargo pants. You may have to help a guy out.

Some women believe that men are just like our best girlfriends, and that they understand that we are just having fun with fashion when we wear items like baggy harem yoga pants. (Which, no offense, do not even look good on 22-year-old yoga instructors.) You might certainly get looks and attention, but guys usually don’t appreciate out-there clothing quite the way other women do. They do not wish to scan your fashion choices for hidden clues as to whether you are artsy or outdoorsy or a party girl. That is almost exclusively a girl thing — sorting friends based on similar clothing style — and doesn’t translate into romantic success or increased soulmate connection with a man.

You Deserve to Be a Knockout. #truth

The look that has universal appeal is “Sexy” + “Lady”. (Not to be confused with “Sexy Lady,” which is just cheesy.) Stock your wardrobe with form-fitting dresses, pencil skirts, skinny jeans, and fitted shirts and sweaters. Do what Jennifer Aniston does and have a tailor nip and tuck your clothing to make it fit just right (she even has her t-shirts tailored to hug her curves perfectly). In fact, tailoring is an inexpensive way to refresh the clothes you already own. Start wearing kitten heels if you’re not used to walking in high heels—you’ll get much the same effect. Wear perfume, jewelry, and pile on the details.

Your Look Tells Men How You Want to Be Treated. #truth

You don’t need to be rich or Hollywood-perfect to be glamorous. There is a French word—soignée—that sums up the look you’re going for; it means, “taken care of.” That’s the type of woman you deserve to be. When you have paid attention to the details of dress and hair and makeup, you show the world that you are precious and valuable and worth taking care of.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE.

HE’S NOT FLIRTING… HE’S ACTUALLY PUTTING YOU DOWN

A handsome male co-worker sends you a suggestive picture with some jokey comment about oral sex. Your reaction is…

A: “Awesome! He thinks I’m hot.” You flirt back in your reply.

B: “Too bad…thought he had potential.” You delete the text and mentally move on. Mr. Handsome is obviously not trying to impress you or bring you his best game.

Back in my single days, we referred to ourselves as doormats when we let men walk all over us. Doormat behavior included:

  • Having sex right away (if we really preferred to wait instead);
  • Becoming part of some guy’s harem (if we preferred exclusivity); and
  • Going with the flow” when guys relentlessly pushed against our boundaries.
he's not flirting, he's actually putting you down

Being a doormat is accepting behavior that is unacceptable to you. You know in your heart when it’s happening. Most women recognize when guys are boundary-pushing in a disrespectful way. But there is one area that confuses many women, and that’s when men approach us with sexual or crude humor and flirtation. While some guys definitely do this in real life, you’re just as likely to encounter it on your phone, on dating sites, and pretty much everywhere in social media. Because some people refer to this behavior as “flirting” women aren’t always sure how to respond.

Here is the modern form of being a doormat: Allowing yourself to be a dumpster for sexually suggestive “flirting” and banter.

Sure, some guys on YouTube may imply that public groping and sexual references to body parts are the equivalent of flirting these days. Just normal dudes expressing interest. But seriously—NoThat’s not flirting, it’s dumping. When a guy makes references to his “meat” the only sane response from a woman with options—a High Value Woman like yourself—is silence. Cross him off your list and move on.

Why? Because guys say that stuff to impress other guys, not you. It’s a display of crudeness that many men (not all) find entertaining and harmless. But also, it is sometimes used to “put you in your place” as a woman. That’s right: the “sexy” comments that some women think are encouraging, or a stepping-stone to romance, may communicate something different to men. An obviously sexual come-on says: I refuse to put this girl on a pedestal—she is nothing special to me.

I was helping a single client with her Facebook page recently. Her male friends-of-friends kept posting raunchy, crude posters on her page. I advised her to change her settings to prevent their posting. I further suggested that the next time they text her “funny” pictures that contain the f-word or are mean-spirited or crude in any way, she should reply with “Please don’t send that stuff to me—I don’t like it.” Then make like a ghost and disappear.

My 26-year-old client couldn’t understand this advice at first. Weren’t these guys flirting with her when they sent her some meme about threesomes? Shouldn’t she be flattered by the “attention”? Doesn’t everyone drop the f-bomb in casual conversations these days? And, aren’t the most popular women on dating sites the ones who brag they have a “dirty mind” or “like it rough”?

Here’s the point: Guys who are willing to risk offending you with crude language don’t think you’re very special to start with. They aren’t overly concerned about your individual feelings and opinions. You’re just one of many of women they are approaching. They aren’t worried about the outcome.

TIP: If you aren’t sure how to respond to a guy’s sexually-charged text, consider this: Would he send the same message to Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, or Rihanna?

Probably he wouldn’t. He’d be on his best behavior with a woman he admires. He knows the difference. So is it flattering that he sent that message to YOU? The answer is “B”—it’s not. Ignore him and hold out for the man who really wants to talk to you, not just swagger in front of his friends. Sometimes that’s the very same guy, after he’s had a chance to sober up and clean up his game. If he’s truly interested in you, he’ll get the hint and try again later with a classier invitation.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

RELATIONSHIP OR "ENTANGLEMENT" — DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?

This is a big-sister PSA for all the savvy and desirable women searching for advice on this site: The greatest relationship advice on the planet will NOT help you, if what you’re really in is an “entanglement.”

Don't settle for an Entanglement when what you want is a Relationship.

If you apply well-meaning, coming-from-a-happy-place type of advice to an entanglement, it will come back to bite you. Big time. Because you may end up giving more of yourself—your time, your love, your commitment—to a situation that is not ever going to improve. Not ever. In a relationship, both partners are equally committed to moving forward together; it’s an even exchange of energy. In an entanglement, one partner stands still while the other attempts to push and pull him toward the finish line; the energy is so unbalanced that it topples everything in its path.

What Is an Entanglement?

Just like it sounds, this is the experience of getting all tangled up with a man. You think about him all the time, to the point where you’ve lost focus on other important areas of your life. The sex is amazing, but you’re not exactly sure where you stand emotionally. Each time he leaves, you wonder when you’ll hear from him next. Maybe you’ve moved in together or are raising children together; even so, the uncertainty is there. He’s not exactly a bad boy—you think he could be “The One”—but you have a sneaking suspicion that he could be seeing other women behind your back.

You wish you could monitor his texts (his phone is always locked) and you do absolutely check out every new woman he friends on Facebook. You tell people you are in a relationship, and that you are committed to “making it work,” but the effort is yours alone. Your man appears to be content with things just as they are. Is he all tangled up with you? Probably not—an entanglement is mostly one-sided.

Bottom line: An entanglement can last months or years, but it goes nowhere.Drama may give the illusion of movement—you fight, make up, and appear to move forward—but you’re really just going around in a circle.

What Is a Relationship?

When a man makes an emotional commitment to you, and clearly makes you a priority in his life, this is a relationship. Relationships are like a dance. Your partner carefully observes your wants and needs, and adjusts his moves to fit yours. You know he loves you because he considers your desires with every step he takes. Your opinions matter to him. He may not always agree with you or do exactly what you want—it would be unreasonable and unhealthy to expect him to—but you are always in his thoughts. His plans for the future include you, and he puts effort and action into making those plans real. Tap into your intuition: If you feel secure and protected with your guy, you are probably in a true relationship.

Bottom line: A relationship moves forward, toward commitment. Your man is certain that you make his life better and he can’t imagine a future without you in it.

Expert advice can’t help you fix an entanglement. If a man has decided that you are not his Forever Girl, you can’t love and “understand” him into changing his mind, no matter how good the sex is or how enmeshed your lives are. Your best bet is to recognize the situation for what it is and move on. There are wonderful single men out there who would be thrilled to wrap you in their arms and give you the safe and secure feeling you crave.

NEXT: Find out how to avoid getting into an entanglement in the first place…

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

IN LOVE WITH A MARRIED MAN? 5 TRUTHS YOU NEED RIGHT NOW

“I know what you’re going to say, but my situation is different. He is truly my soulmate.” 
Megan (age 31), on being in love with a married man

In almost 15 years of coaching women, I have seen that the experience of falling in love with a married man cuts across almost all cultures, age groups, ethnicity, religions, and education levels. Despite the knowledge that this scenario is unethical, immoral, and guaranteed to bring pain to everyone involved, many otherwise smart, single women get their hearts tangled up this way.

in love with a married man

You already know this is a story that does not end well. But I’m not here to shame anyone. Maybe today you are only fantasizing about getting involved with an unavailable man, and this article is the universe’s way of warning you to stop, take a deep breath, and just walk away. Or maybe you did get involved and HE has been the one to pull back.

Experience tells me that at least one of these 5 truths applies to your situation. While it can be hard to get control of your emotions when you feel so connected to another person, you can control how you frame the situation for yourself. If you’re only willing to use a romantic “soulmate” frame, you’ll just stay stuck. So try these on and see if any fit. Pray, meditate, and do your best to be open to a new perspective, because…

This is YOUR chance to write yourself a happier ending.

TRUTH #1: There is nothing special about breaking up a marriage that is already broken.

It can be tempting to think you are more “special” than his wife; more beautiful, sexier, nicer—everything he says. But if he already had one foot out the door—and that’s the case for most men who actually end up leaving their wives—you are mainly this: the nearest exit. This man may end up remarrying, but hardly ever to the first woman who provides him with a convenient way out.

TRUTH #2: You will become "The Guy" in the relationship.

If you’re in the early stages of an affair, this part may be hard to believe. After all, he is chasing you hard, right? You weren’t even all that interested in him at first. That dynamic can’t last, though. You are available. He is not. He is the one who is hard to get. Eventually, you’ll feel less confident, less sure of his feelings, and you may start to feel like it’s you who is chasing him.

TRUTH #3: You are putting your life on hold for a fantasy.

Even if your infatuation never progresses to a physical affair, it can still be damaging. Don’t be the “work wife” who takes trips with her married boss or crushes on a married co-worker. You deserve to be at the center of someone’s life, not lurking around the edges.

TRUTH #4: It takes two people to create a bad marriage.

He played a role in his “bad” marriage and you’ll never really know the whole truth. If his wife is “crazy”, “possessive,” or “controlling,” it may be because he has a pattern of behaving improperly with female friends and co-workers. Or maybe he has other issues that are easy to hide from a mistress, but that would destroy your relationship, too, if your lives were truly intertwined.

TRUTH #5: He is O.K. with his life just the way it is.

Some men choose a wife who is like a domestic worker bee; she makes him look good by keeping his home life humming. He feels entitled to stray, usually with more exciting women who have zero kitchen skills. While his attitude is shady, understand that that is who he is. You will not change him. He likes his compartmentalized life. He doesn’t want to marry a sexy siren, and as long as his wife is doing her job (raising the kids and keeping a low profile) he will be content to share good times with you—but not much more.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

WHY CONFIDENCE IS OVER-RATED

“Developing poise doesn’t just make you appear composed and dignified. Over time it will help you reach a state of true inner calm and contentment.” —Robyn Wahlgast

Have you ever wondered why some people hold our attention in an almost hypnotic way, even if they don’t fit conventional definitions of beauty? A man can become mesmerized by a woman who displays that special something he can’t quite name. It doesn’t matter what she weighs or how old she is or what color her hair is—she has It.

Confidence is over-rated

In my grandmother’s day, that special quality was called “poise” and everyone worked to develop it. Poise was considered such an important part of adulthood—separating the girls from the women—that some of us were actually sent to places called Charm School to learn how to achieve it. A related idea is that of “presence”—when someone so fully inhabits the present moment that they radiate a powerful, concentrated energy. At a party, our eyes might skip past a woman giggling and gesturing wildly to her friends, and instead focus on someone sitting quietly in a corner. A calm, centered mind is the foundation of magnetic presence.

Sadly, over time, the idea of developing poise became associated with out-dated female role models, like beauty pageant winners. Dating and relationship guides began to substitute the word “confidence” for poise, to appeal to educated, professional women. But don’t be fooled. Confidence and poise are absolutely NOT interchangeable. When a 4-year-old marches up to you and insists that today will be Opposite Day, or that from now on you MUST address her as Princess Starshine, she is displaying a boatload of confidence—but very little poise.

A client recently asked me to create a modern “charm school” lesson plan for her. She is a single mom who is actively dating. While she is confident in her career and in her parenting, she struggles to know how to attract men to her in social settings. Here are some tips I shared with her, to help her unlock an authentic, grown-up presence—the essence of Beauty Queen composure.

6 Signs Of A Poised Woman

  1. She doesn’t look around the room, smiling or trying to make eye contact or wondering what others think of her. She is fully absorbed in whatever she is doing at this moment. Men will notice you more and watch you intently when you are self-contained and focused on the task at hand. This creates tension—and it can feel vulnerable or uncomfortable at first, if you’re not used to being noticed this way by men. If you look around, smile, or wave, you are breaking concentration and diluting the energy that fuels attraction, so train yourself to maintain composure and stay absorbed in what you’re doing. Let the tension build.
  2. There is a meditative quality to her conversation. She never “tells all” in an interview, offers unsolicited advice, or goes on and on in a boring way about her personal opinions. (Perhaps this is why everyone is eager to hear what she thinks.)
  3. Her feelings and thoughts are informed and considered. She doesn’t share her beliefs with just anyone. Her inner life is like a precious gift, given to those who earn her respect and trust.
  4. Her manner is warm and welcoming, not cool and self-conscious.
  5. Women have a gift for bringing others together and building community. Whether at the center of her family, the center of a professional network, or in service to an important mission, her power lies in uniting people—never dividing them with gossip or jealousy.
  6. Life is what it is. Sometimes we are rushed, pressured, and filled with stress. We can all work to carry our burdens as lightly as possible. She remembers to assume good intentions and act with kindness at all times.

When you know that you are enough just as you are, we can say you are confident. But when you come from a place that is so composed and centered that even your smallest gesture has importance—that is poise.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

HOW TO BE ENCHANTING ("SHE'S STRANGE")

#singleladies #wayback

Today we're going #wayback to 1984. To the song She's Strange by Cameo:

She's strange, and I like it
She's strange, just the way she is
Strange, walking down the avenue
She's strange, always doing something new

She's the kind of person everybody knows
She reeks distinction from head to toe
She's my Twilight Zone, my Al Capone
She's my Rolling Stones and my Eva Perone

And I like it . . .

When it comes to attracting men, most women worry about the wrong things. We focus on fixing "flaws" that men either don't notice or don't care aboutusually related to physical appearance. We do that because at our core we aren't really trying to attract men, we're locked in a pattern of trying to appease other women. 

there is no magic in simply fitting in

Women grow up policing each other, and some go to great lengths to make sure other girls don't step too far out of line (meaning: don't outshine your friends). Back in my day, if a girl was too fashionably dressed, there would be a swift "who does she think she is" reaction, usually coupled with a "she thinks she's cute." Of course that censure applied to thoughts and opinions as well; any girl who dared to think for herself risked becoming an outcast.

Even today, I have clients who heard similar messages growing up, and have carried that impulse to conform into adulthood. They are afraid to "stand out" by being too attractive, or to express opinions that are not "nice" or popular. Their nails are done to perfection (a detail appreciated only by other women), but the constant self-monitoring has erased their feminine charm and allure (qualities real men do appreciate and respond to). The strategies that worked so well to appease other girls, back in the day, may actually be blocking them from connecting with men today.

TIP: Make sure playground rules haven't followed you into adulthood. If you still think "fitting in" is important, you may be turning off the quality men you wish to attract. 

When you were a kid, did other girls ever make you feel like you were strange? In a woman's world, it is very hurtful to be labeled different or odd. By contrast, what does a man say, when a woman strikes him as "strange"? He says she is:

  • Magnetic
  • Bewitching
  • Enchanting
  • Captivating
  • Charming
  • Addicting

At first, you were just a blur of movement in the crowd, but now that he has really noticed you he sees that you are strange. He is curious about you. This is attraction, for a guy. The woman who is different from all the others (in his view) and different from himself is like an Enchantress. He feels helpless, unable to resist her spell. No man says, "I'm obsessed with hershe is so generic." Or: "I must have hershe is virtually interchangeable with all of her friends." There is no magic in simply fitting in. 

When it comes to accepting difference, men are typically more evolved than women. They are highly tolerant of their friends' quirks and oddities, and are more likely to notice a breech in loyalty or respect than behavior that is simply "weird." They barely notice if another guy adheres to out-there religious or political beliefs or is otherwise unconventional, as long as he upholds a basic code of decency and friendship. "He's coolhe parties" is about as much commentary as you may get from college-aged men, regarding a new roommate. Women could learn a lot from the peaceful tolerance that exists in the man-cave. 

TIP: Most men easily accept others' quirks and oddities. Women could learn a lot from the peaceful tolerance that exists in the man-cave. 

Women ask me all the time about confidence. They know that it is supposedly an attractive quality, but are dismayed when they actually drive men away with (what they think is) a display of inner strength. The key is that when a woman attempts to convey confidence in a traditionally masculine way, she usually appears insecure instead. This is why so many Alpha Women mistakenly think men are scared off by their "confidence" when nothing could be further from the truth. Men read those signals differently from you.   

Instead, I invite you to think of "strange" as your path to true confidence. It's a safe place where that judgmental crowd from high school has no power over you. You are free to express your most serene, feminine, and vulnerable self. 

TIP: "Strange" is your path to confidence. It's a safe place where you are free to express your most serene, feminine, and vulnerable self.

Men appreciate the unique, but I'm not suggesting that you should scare away your dates by dressing like a goth ghoul from Monster High or revealing every little quirk and tattoo. That attention-seeking behavior is not different or special, it's the lowest form of Walmart-normal. The woman who is strange by today's standards is:

  • MysteriousShe doesn't over-share personal details about herself or others. 
  • UnpredictableShe thinks for herself and does not follow the crowd or look to her friends for validation.
  • SereneShe is slow to take offense and assumes good intentions; she is not a drama queen.
  • ModestShe is quietly confident and doesn't need to boast or name-drop or sell herself. [Genuine humility is such a prized quality among men that it deserves its own post; guys have a HIGH radar for boastfulness in any form, and even a hint of it sets off alarm bells in a man's mind.] 
  • RespectfulShe graciously accepts that others may not agree with her views, and rises above the need to "win" or debate others.
  • OpenShe is curious about other people and accepts their differences; this is part of what makes the world beautiful to her. 
  • VulnerableShe doesn't need to bluster her way through a conversation; if she makes a mistake, she says so. 

These are characteristics of a truly confident person and none require you to have every aspect of your life in order or to strive for an unobtainable, perfect image. When you've mastered a truly feminine expression of confidence, you can be you and attract a man who appreciates what you have to offer. Focus on distinguishing yourself in every way possible. Give yourself permission to be outstanding.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

3 STEPS TO RE-ANCHOR YOUR MARRIAGE (FOR WOMEN)

“You can have everything and still be depressed, until you learn that you are here as an offering. You are not here to get; you are here to give.”
— David Deida, Dear Lover

If you’ve been married to your man for many years, you know that getting to the altar was the easy part. It’s staying together for the long haul that is the challenge. Few of us would consider it a success to simply co-partner with a mate in a basic, tribal sense, nesting and raising young together. We humans crave and need passionate, emotional connection in a long-term union. If that feeling of connectedness weakens, loneliness can set in, and our commitment to each other will weaken in response.

“You can have everything and still be depressed, until you learn that you are here as an offering. You are not here to get; you are here to give.” —David Deida, Dear Lover

There is never a wrong time to practice openness, but it is especially important in a committed relationship. (Of course, I bring this idea to you with the assumption that your man is trustworthy, treats you with respect, and has made you a priority in his life. Those conditions must be met before we talk about emotionally surrendering ourselves to a mate.)

If you’ve been feeling like your connection needs strengthening—maybe he seems a little distant, or you just have a vague feeling that things are “off”—following these 3 steps will help to re-anchor feelings of love and attachment.

1.    Read Dear Lover by David Deida. This book celebrates feminine joy and sensuality, and offers a safe space for exploring ideas about surrender within a committed, loving relationship. If you struggle to relate to your man in an emotionally vulnerable way (or if you’re not sure what, exactly, that looks and feels like) Deida’s vivid, erotically charged language will help you “open in trust” to your mature, loving mate, and move past blocks and fears. Bringing this mindset into your relationship will fuel his passion and devotion.

2.   Give without expectation of any return. This generosity comes from a position of strength, and is a completely different perspective from the eager-to-please “doormat” who puts everyone else’s needs first. Actually, you have a deep need to give to those you love; it is only when we start keeping score that giving breeds resentment and poisons otherwise healthy impulses. Just for today, imagine that you are Queen of your household. You have unlimited resources at your disposal and it makes you happy to share your good fortune. When you see that your husband’s glass is empty, you graciously refill it—without waiting for him to acknowledge it, or even notice. This shift in perspective—from put-upon victim to magnanimous ruler—can help you feel energized and alive. It builds good will, the foundation of any healthy relationship.

3.   Remove the assumption that you “know” your man. This is hard to do. You think you know all there is to know about him—how he thinks and feels. But you have surely grown and evolved since you first met. Maybe you have new dreams and desires that he is unaware of. Certainly he does, too. So put on your safari gear and go observe him in the wild. Take notes. Ask him questions. What is his mission in life—has it changed since you were first dating and dying to know all about him? Pretend you just met. And don’t make the mistake of sharing all your dreams and desires first; to a man, that can feel like “dumping” if it is unexpected and out of context. Listen to him with respect, first. Your time will come, and he will return your interest ten-fold when you show that you trust him to do so. 

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON ROBYN'S BLOG @THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

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Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

DOES GREAT CONVERSATION LEAD TO GREAT EMOTIONAL CONNECTION?

Are you addicted to "instant connection"? Do you believe that you should only date men who immediately "get you" on the first date?  

Today’s post was prompted by a question from one of my subscribers. But first, here is a pop quiz. Which of these two first-date guys is clearly a self-centered dud you should turn down for date #2:

David—Who talked so much during the date that you couldn’t get a word in edge-wise. You heard all about his job, his favorite sports team, and his recent vacation. You’re pretty sure that he learned nothing about you, and has no sense of your personality. You are disappointed that you didn’t get a chance to share this really crazy story your co-worker just texted you.

Josh—Who asked you lots of questions, laughed at your jokes, and really worked to draw you out. You found yourself telling him all kinds of personal stories from your childhood that you rarely share with anyone.

Are you addicted to "instant connection"? Do you believe that you should only date men who immediately "get you" on the first date?  

The answer:

Based only on the information above, NEITHER date is clearly a self-absorbed dud. BOTH David and Josh are still contenders. Here is one way to look at this common dating experience:

When a man is really attracted to you he gets nervous (David). Those nerves make some guys clam up, their minds go blank, and they can’t think of anything to say—then you have to carry the conversation until he regains composure. Other men, however, start talking a mile a minute to hide their nervousness. They feel this rush of adrenaline and they channel that energy in a socially-acceptable way—talking—which might hit you like a never-ending monologue. He may also feel pressure to entertain you and hold your interest; he is worried that you'll feel bored or lapse into awkward silence. A guy like David is in selling mode. 

BOTTOM LINE: David probably talked a lot because he likes you, not because he's not interested in learning all about you. If he asks you out again, it's reasonable to give him a second chance.

Now consider the flip side:

When a man isn’t wowed by you he isn’t nervous at all (Josh). He’s like, I’ve got this. He may enjoy the ego boost of being able to charm you and make you giggle. He may be attracted enough to enjoy creating a little connection. But he doesn’t have stars in his eyes or fear in the pit of his stomach that he’s got to work to impress you. He’s not a panicked motor-mouth or scared speechless. 

BOTTOM LINE: It's awesome when a date turns out to be fun and you feel a little connection. But don't assume Josh is The One simply because the conversation flowed. Going forward, pay attention to his actions and make sure he's bringing some hustle and effort to his game, not just entertaining banter.

What if “Josh” really is smitten?

Isn’t it possible that Josh is a socially gifted guy, capable of being “into” a woman but also a smooth conversationalist at the same time? Maybe he really is wowed by you, but is skillful enough to play Communications Director at the same time. Of course! There are men like this. But not a lot of them. And sometimes there are trade-offs worth considering. Maybe Josh has been single a long time and has been on lots and lots of first and second dates; he is really good at starting things up but not so interested in the follow-through. Or maybe he is a “feminine energy” kind of guy—the type that evolves into a platonic friend because he just isn't masculine enough to actively pursue you. We don’t know, this early on. If he asks, agree to see him again and just see where it goes

TIP: Are you addicted to "instant connection"? Do you believe that you should only date men who immediately "get you" on the first date? This type of thinking can leave you vulnerable to men who are experts at seduction, but not long-term commitment. True emotional connection can't be rushed, and builds over many months of shared experiences. 

Is it ever o.k. to interrupt a chatty date? 

What my subscriber really wanted to know was related to dating etiquette: What do I do when I’m on a date with a super chatty guy? How do I politely interrupt him or get his attention so that I have a chance to tell him about myself? The answer is: Nothing. Don’t do anything. Don’t interrupt him or talk over him. Assume he likes you or he wouldn’t be so talkative. Trust that he has enough of a sense of you to know whether he wants see you again. You don’t need to sell yourself or launch into amusing stories for a "David" to decide if he is attracted to you. Either he is or he isn’t, and if he is he will ask you out for a second date. There's no need to compete with him for airtime. What if he really is self-absorbednot just nervous? No worries, you'll find out the truth soon enough. But it's worth a second try, if your only complaint is that he over-shared on the first date.  

TIP: Women often believe that great conversation = great emotional connection. But that's not necessarily how it works with men. Instead, focus on his actions: Does he ask for a second date, have a plan, and follow through on his hints and suggestions? A man becomes emotionally connected through his actionsspending time with you and sharing experiencesnot through talking.

Here’s an additional tip:

Men don’t fall in love with your crazy stories, your sense of humor, or your many accomplishments. They fall in love with your essencewho you are underneath all that superficial stuff. So never feel that you need to bombard a man with tons of information about yourself in that first date. Truthfully, the less you say, the more he can soak up your essence. He will learn all about you and appreciate all those accomplishments later. For now, your attitude should be “Let the best man win.” Get your zen on and just go with the flow.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Learn how to rock The Rules for lasting love and marriage. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

"THIRD DATE" SEX IS WAY TOO SOON (SCIENCE SAYS)

You feel ready for a lasting relationship. You are tired of guys disappearing after you become intimate. You have the vague idea that waiting to have sex may be the key, but you’re told that “withholding” sex is manipulative, old fashioned, and not very romantic.

Savvy friends tell you there is an understanding that date #3 is the appropriate time to give it up. You’ve noticed this is usually the stage when a man invites you to his apartment to “hang out” in the general vicinity of his bedroom. You fear that if you hesitate, he won’t invest further in your relationship. Yet, experience has shown you that third-date sex doesn’t seem to have any effect on a man’s commitment level; in fact, sometimes he just gets busier and has even less time to hang out with you, afterward.

why "third date" sex is way too soon

It can be hard to trust your intuition and instincts when so much of popular culture implies that sex is Level 1 in the mating game, a stepping stone toward commitment and bonding. But what if I offered you scientific proof that, in fact, the opposite is true?—that in waiting to have sex you’re actually increasing your odds of experiencing lasting attraction and romance.

Listen up, girlfriend, because science is on your side when you wait. Here are a few facts to help you commit to saying no until you are sure Prince Charming is all that he seems:

Dopamine: From Crush to Crash

Chemicals like dopamine feed the buzz of infatuation in our brains. When you daydream about your crush, the anticipation of being together produces lots of dopamine, which further increases your feeling of infatuation. When two people feel a connection, this buzz can be amplified through non-sexual contact such as locking eyes, touching hands, and even simple physical nearness—the “don’t stand so close to me” phenomenon.

Guess what shuts off the production of dopamine—and therefore that “in love” feeling—in men?

Completion of the sex act. That’s right: having sex can temporarily shut off your man’s seemingly obsessive interest in you. If he is not already emotionally bonded (unlikely by date 3), then this sugar crash will leave him empty and ready to move on—in search of a woman who can give him a longer and more sustained hit of happiness. (Interestingly, researchers have found that men with high self-esteem are even more likely to experience this post-sex emotional detachment than their less-secure brothers.)

Oxytocin: It’s a Girl Thing

Oxytocin is known as the “love” hormone, and it is true that in women, the release of oxytocin during sex can increase our emotional attachment to a sex partner. We also know that oxytocin is released in men during sex, as well as through other forms of physical affection and pleasurable experiences. However, unless a man is already emotionally bonded with his partner—a process that requires time and a healthy stock of shared experiences—the effects of oxytocin release in men is unclear.

There is no scientific evidence that oxytocin released during casual sex—where an emotional attachment has not yet developed—will result in a man becoming further bonded with his partner. (In fact, oxytocin’s effect on male behavior is downright confusing and not necessarily loving.) If you’ve ever seduced a man in the hope of making him more attached to you, understand that that approach simply doesn’t work. (And after reading about the potential for a dopamine crash, I hope you’ll see that “sex for fun” is exceedingly unlikely to lead to a walk down the aisle.)

So which would you rather experience with your dream guy: the slow build-up of desire… or the letdown of simply reaching the finish line?

Although they won’t broadcast it among their casual buddies (because it’s nobody’s business and it is maybe a little unmanly-sounding), men who really dig you will wait. They will wait until you are ready. And in the midst of that dopamine-fueled sugar high, they won’t really mind waiting, either.

All primary research by Dr. David M. Buss and his lab at the University of Texas.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR YOURTANGO.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

UNDERSTANDING MEN — WHY HE CHOOSES SILENCE

You’d think that with all the gender-related research that has taken place over the last 20 years, modern men and women would be better equipped to just accept our differences and live together peacefully. Informed by all those studies, I should be able to accept my husband’s hard-wired behavior, and he should be able to embrace my innate femaleness — because as research shows, it’s nothing personal.

Understanding Men: Silence is a man's safe place. Respect his need to seek comfort his way.

And in truth, men usually do accept that some things just “are what they are” — wives and girlfriends included — and cut us plenty of slack for behavior and attitudes that can seem a bit odd from a male perspective. (My husband still can’t fathom why my daughters and I find pedicures relaxing — to him it would be the worst form of tickle torture — but he gracefully accepts that our experience is different from his.)

By contrast, women often have a harder time of letting go and just accepting some of the manly quirks that show up in long-term relationships — removing the personal, in other words. One of these is a man’s tendency to make like a turtle and retreat into his shell when conflict appears on the horizon. In fact, for some guys, going silent is simply a default setting — whether happy, depressed, angry, or worried. Meanwhile, women have a hard time believing that not talking about a problem might actually be a healthy and loving strategy. If you frequently get frustrated with your guy for clamming up just when you’d like him to open up, are these some of the adjectives you mentally apply to his behavior?

  • Stonewalling
  • Passive-Aggressive
  • Withholding
  • Out of touch
  • Rejecting

That list is made up of real complaints from married women I have coached over the years. 

What those adjectives imply is that for some unknown reason, your honey is choosing a behavior (going silent) that deliberately brings pain to the woman he supposedly loves (you!). Assuming yours is a reasonably healthy and harmonious relationship otherwise, that doesn’t sound very logical does it? How would it benefit him to drive you batty on purpose? And you know guys are all about logic... Men do what makes sense — from a male perspective.

So to better understand his tactics, it helps to understand the value of silence from your guy’s perspective:

  1. Silence is calming. Companionable silence can be among a man’s greatest pleasures in life, and well accompanies typical dude activities like chess, golf, fly fishing, and poker. By contrast, when a woman needs to self-sooth, her impulse is usually to talk about her concerns — verbal sharing is calming for her. In this respect, men and women truly have competing needs.
  2. Silence is safe. Even a modern husband feels the pull of primitive instincts. Ancestors who learned to hunt silently were more successful at providing food for their family and community. Silence offers protection. Both men and women seek safety during times of stress — for a man, silence is his safe place.
  3. Silence works in other areas of life. In his work life, and certainly in the company of other men, there is rarely a downside to silence. Talk, on the other hand, can be risky. Saying too much (or the wrong thing) can make someone vulnerable to attack. Men generally can point to a lifetime of experiences that support this approach. If your experience has been that silence is generally a winning strategy, with very little downside risk, it makes sense that it would be your go-to position as well.

The next time your well-meaning sweetie opts NOT to “talk things out,” try to see his behavior as a teeny bit chivalrous, like opening a door for you or carrying a heavy package. In adopting silence, his hard-wired impulses may be to:

a) Calm down

b) Protect you and your relationship.

If you can look at it that way, you will generate loads more good will than if you immediately label his behavior in a negative way. And when you allow him to become emotionally restored and recharged—his way — he’ll be better able to give you what you need.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Need advice about your own dating situation? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

YOU MUST BREAK UP WITH HIM IF HE SKIPS VALENTINE'S DAY

Isn’t Valentine’s Day just one day out of the year? It’s how he behaves on the other 364 days that matters, right?

Valentine’s Day is over. As the dust settles, you can clearly see where you stand with your guy. Maybe too clearly, if your experience was kind of blah. Should you care? Are you over-reacting? Isn’t Valentine’s Day just one day out of the year? It’s how behaves on the other 364 days that matters, right?

Never settle for less than a gift from the heart. Robyn Wahlgast

You may be surprised to know that the amount of effort your man puts into Valentine’s Day, your birthday, or any other special day, speaks volumes about how much he values his relationship with you. Are you The One he has fantasies about marrying? (It’s true, guys really do look forward to putting a ring on it when they want you.) Or do you suspect you are only his good-enough-for-now option? If he doesn’t go all out and demonstrate his love for you on Valentine’s Day, he is sending you a message that you are only an option to him—not his priority. Don’t waste time on any man who ditches you on Valentine’s Day. Break up with him—today. Even if you’ve only been casually dating, this is your signal to start seeing others.  

Consider this quote from Massachusetts-based LCSW, Measue Liotta. She confirms that men skimp—or skip out—on Valentine’s Day when they’ve come to realize their girlfriend is NOT the woman they want to spend that special day with: “It’s harder to fake it on these holidays when we want to be truly in love; harder to lie to ourselves when things don't feel right or true during these should-be-blissful times.” Just as women don’t want to have to “fake it” in the bedroom, men feel uncomfortable faking romantic attachment. They’d rather downplay the holiday or avoid you entirely.

Here’s a pop quiz. Which of these gifts is a true expression of love?

A.      Red Swarovski crystal heart necklace

B.      White porcelain pig

Without more information, we might automatically pick “A”—the heart pendant. But here’s the thing. This is an actual Valentine’s gift one of my clients, Sandy, received from a former boyfriend who wasn’t that into her. He gave the necklace to her at breakfast, as he was heading out to spend the day with his buddies. If you’ve ever walked through a Macy’s on February 13th you’ve seen stacks and stacks of these identical necklaces, piled near the exits; all he had to do was throw a credit card at the cashier and hop back outside to his train. If he’d wanted to spend that special day with Sandy, and create a romantic experience for her, the necklace would have been a fine gift. But in this case, the pendant was just a crumb, tossed her way without much emotion.

The porcelain pig is the gift that Sandy received this year, from her fiancé (a different man). Sandy is of Irish descent and had inherited a collection of porcelain figures from her late mother. The figures were all made in the same Irish foundry and are finished in a distinctive white glaze; the set includes several farm animals. Shortly after they started dating, she mentioned to her guy that she would someday like to complete the set with a Belleek pig. Her fiancé is a bit of a guy’s guy — antiquing took him way out of his comfort zone. But he had listened to her closely, remembered her story, and did the legwork to find the perfect piece for her collection. There was no way he would have missed spending Valentine’s Day with her, enjoying the results of his quest.  

So pay more attention to what your man does than what he says. Men are pretty clear about their intentions. If he’d rather hang with his crew on special days, he is sending you a signal about where you stand. Don’t settle for fake romance. Hold out and move on...to find the real thing.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR MICHAEL FIORE'S DIGITAL ROMANCE.