WHY YOU FALL FOR THE WRONG GUYS (PART 2)

HOW ROMANTIC CHEMISTRY CAN FOOL US. READ PART 1 HERE.

There is a man on your mind.

You work with him, or you see him at church, or he is your neighbor. When you stop to chat, it’s obvious that the two of you enjoy mutual chemistry. But for some reason, he never takes things further. You wish he would ask for your number or suggest getting coffee, but he hasn’t yet.

So what should you do? You know better than to step up and ask him out yourselfBut it's hard to wait and do nothing, while a potentially great opportunity for romance passes you by.

READ FIRST:  WHY YOU FALL FOR THE WRONG GUYS (PART 1)

why you fall for the wrong guys

This is a frustrating scenario that many single women know well. You could probably have dinner with a couple of girlfriends and discuss all the possible angles of this situation for hours, decoding the secret meaning behind his “see you later” when you ran into him at the gym this morning. As any man will tell you, though, it’s really not that complicated.

His view: it’s really not that complicated.

FROM BCBG

Brain chemistry can fool us.

While feeling romantic sparks is a big deal to many women — signaling the beginning of a relationship, we hope — most men have a more practical take.

That rush of attraction is powerful in the moment, but men see it for what it is: sexual desire. It’s a mating signal. And not necessarily a mate-for-life signal, either, just a I'd-love-to-see-you-naked-sometime signal.

FROM DR. BRANDT

Men see "chemistry" for what it is: a mating signal.

When a woman says she feels chemistry with a man, she usually means that she feels an emotional connection as well. For her, that rush of adrenaline is all tangled up with feelings that resemble love.

Here are examples of how some of my female clients responded to the intense rush of the mating signal, getting into entanglements they later regretted:

  • “I know it’s wrong [to date a married man] but we have this incredible chemistry. Sometimes I don’t believe it can be completely wrong, otherwise, I wouldn’t feel this way.”
  • “He’s moved on and has a new girlfriend, but I did let him stay over last week. I hate that I let him treat me like this, but I haven’t met anyone else I feel this connection with.”
  • “I got tired of waiting so I just asked him if he had feelings for me. Now he avoids me in class. I’m in such pain. I know he feels what I feel. I don’t see why he’s playing this game.”

Women sometimes allow this intense rush of emotions to justify self-destructive decisions.

When we see a girlfriend spiraling out of control over a man, she almost always justifies her damaging behavior by saying that her connection to him “feels so intense.” She is putting her trust in feelings of intense sexual attraction, as if the intensity must automatically lead to true, lasting love. Logically, we understand that emotional connection takes time to build. Plus, it takes many months of shared experiences to really assess another person’s character and values.

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

But this friend is under the influence of dopamine and other chemicals in the brain that have triggered a mating instinct. In many ways, she is struggling with a very powerful addiction. If she says she doesn't feel strong enough to walk away... you can believe her.   

Men can enjoy the sensation of sexual chemistry without wanting to act on it.

Does her target (her man) feel the same way? Probably not. Men can feel the chemistry and enjoy it for what it is, in the here and now. A happily married man can have crush-like feelings around a co-worker without wanting to have an affair. A single man can feel chemistry with a woman who is much older or younger than he feels is appropriate to date, or who is simply isn’t his usual “type.” It’s fun and harmless and isn’t always a reaction we can control.

What we CAN control, however, is our response to romantic chemistry. And that leads us back to the original question: Should you pine over a man you have intense feelings for,  when he doesn't take a single step toward advancing your relationship? If you understand that men don’t necessarily experience “love” every time they feel that rush, you are better able to see the situation for what it is.

FROM E.L.F.

If he's not trying to move things forward it's because he doesn't want to.  #truth

Sure, he enjoys exchanging good vibes with you. It feels great. But if he saw you as The One, he’d let you know. He wouldn’t risk missing out on a good thing. If he’s not moving things forward, you have your answer: he doesn’t want to. And that understanding gives YOU the freedom to move on and find the man who does.

Just keep doing The Rules.

The most valuable gift a man can give you is his consistent focus and attention over time. Going slowly, delaying physical intimacy, and engaging your mind as well as your heart, will help you assess his character and values — before you sleep with him and possibly get tangled up in a non-relationship

READ NEXT: THIRD-DATE SEX IS WAY TOO SOON (SCIENCE SAYS)

READ FIRST: WHY YOU FALL FOR THE WRONG GUYS (PART 1)

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

An earlier version of this article, How Romantic Chemistry Can Fool Us, was published by the beautiful people at The Wellness Universe.

WHY YOU FALL FOR THE WRONG GUYS (PART 1)

"[Name withheld] and I have been dating for about 2 months. We have an incredible connection. When we met I felt like he's known me forever. We share crazy coincidences, things I normally wouldn't even say on a date. He said he saw a girl just like me once in a vision. I'm still just as into him but now he is different... It's been a week and I haven't even heard from him! There's no way he didn't feel what I feel, I could tell [the sex] meant something to him, he was so loving before."
— Nia (age 31)
"This guy, I can't really tell what's going on. He made me feel amazing from the beginning. He gave me a necklace for my birthday and he takes me to really nice places when he's in town. But it's not consistent. He is away on business and so busy. Still, he says I'm his girlfriend. How can I make him make me his priority? We only get together a few nights here and there. I want more of his time...."
— Sheryl (age 40)
  Are you addicted to "instant connection"? Do you sometimes sleep with a man sooner than you planned, because you feel this special connection?   

Are you addicted to "instant connection"? Do you sometimes sleep with a man sooner than you planned, because you feel this special connection?  

FROM E.L.F.

I get a version of Nia's and Sheryl's messages almost every day. These ladies share a common affliction: they are addicted to the rush of "instant connection." A woman with this mindset believes that a first date should magically flow... like a romantic dream... and that her best match is always going to be the guy who instantly gets her. 

Women like Nia and Sheryl also believe that their Mr. Wonderful must share the same intensity of feelings. After all, he [fill in the blank]:

  • Bought her an expensive dinner
  • Gave her jewelry
  • Said that he had strong feelings for her

Are you addicted to the rush of Instant Connection?

Unfortunately, this type of thinking can leave a woman vulnerable to men who are experts at seduction, but not long-term commitment.

 Love is an open door... but think long and hard before you walk through it.

Love is an open door... but think long and hard before you walk through it.

FROM ZALES

There's a reason it's called "chemistry" when 2 people feel a connection. 

In Part 2, we'll talk about chemicals in your brain that can be released on a first date, or during sex, that fool you into thinking that you and your new guy share something deep. But before we dig into that phenomenon, here is a pop quiz...

Which of these two first-date guys is clearly a Next! 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. If you're honest, you found him nice, but boring. 

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. You really, really hope he asks you out again.

FROM BCBG

Awkward isn't always awful.

Based only on the information above, 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. 

Should you see him again? David probably talked a lot because he likes you, not because he's self-absorbed or a narcissist. If he asks you out again, it's reasonable to give him a second chance, even if you didn't feel sparks on the first date. Some truly interesting and fascinating men take a while to get to know. They grow on you over time. In today's "instant" culture, it can be easy to overlook a real gem of a guy.    

TIP: Some truly fascinating men take a while to get to know. In today's "instant" culture, it can be easy to overlook a real gem of a guy.

Now let's move on to Josh...

 Of course he knows how to create a romantic first date... he's been on so many of them!

Of course he knows how to create a romantic first date... he's been on so many of them!

Focus less on "connection." Pay attention to follow-through and reliability.

When a man isn’t way into 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 suggest going out again and maybe getting you back to his place. 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. 

Next steps: It's awesome when a date turns out to be fun and you feel a 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 courtship, not just entertaining banter or chemistry that is exciting but doesn't lead anywhere.

TIP: Men who are really great at dating have often been on a LOT of first and second dates. That doesn't necessarily mean that he's your perfect match.
 KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS  #THISISMYOFFICE

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS #THISISMYOFFICE

"He's so confusing."

The haze of attraction can cause otherwise smart women to find "mixed messages" in a situation that is pretty straightforward. 

Look, some guys think they are being gentlemen by taking you out for a proper dinner before attempting to sleep with you. Or he may feel he owes it to you to act like a boyfriend when he's with a woman who provides him with regular sex. However, none of this behavior means that he is thinking beyond tonight. Don't let good vibes fool you into believing it's more than it is. Playing at being a boyfriend is not the same as actually being one.

When a man is positively, definitely into you, there is no confusion. 

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

"But he's not the Player type."

A player is simply someone who lives in the moment. He has no intention of hurting you, and therefore believes he is not to blame if you do get hurt. He's not thinking through the consequences of his actions, and he's not concerned about how his behavior may affect you in the long-run. He may be careless and immature, but he's not evil.

TIP: Any man you date is "playing" if he's not interested in locking you down long-term.

Lots of men are accidental players.

If you want something serious, and he's giving you romantic feels... but not romantic actions... just brush aside the rainbows and unicorns, touch up your mascara, and move on. It doesn't mean he's not a nice guy. But he's not your Mr. Right.

Romantic sparks can fool you into thinking you have something deep with a man. Even if he's just playing.

If you sometimes break Rules or sleep with men sooner than you planned, then Part 2 of this article is for you. Did you ever feel sure you connected with a man, only to find out later that he was juggling other women too? And now he hits you up only when he's bored or lonely? 

When you understand how brain chemistry works, you can begin to take charge of your intense feelings of attraction. You can even train yourself to be a little skeptical of those early fireworks. Keep reading here.

READ NEXT:  WHY YOU FALL FOR THE WRONG GUYS (PART 2)

READ NEXT: THIRD-DATE SEX IS WAY TOO SOON (SCIENCE SAYS)

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

LESS EFFORT, MORE LOVE

“I'm not sure what to do about this Tinder guy...”

“I’m not sure what to do with this Tinder guy. We met and I can tell he was attracted to me. I’m wondering if I should email him this article… You said I should wait until he texts first, but what if he doesn’t? He’s the first man I’ve met online that I actually want to see again.
— Annelise (age 51)
“[A male co-worker] always walks past my door at work, stops and jokes with me, totally obvious. Everyone says he likes me…. Do you know a way I can get him to make a move?”
Crystal (age 28)

Going after what you want is a necessary life skill.

If you’ve ever felt the sting of losing your dream house because you chose to play it safe during a bidding war, you know exactly what I mean. Missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity feels terrible. But knowing that you lost because you didn’t play the game aggressively enough? — that is a gnawing failure that most of us would do anything to keep from repeating.

Robyn Wahlgast Less effort more love

Have you ever felt the sting of losing, because you didn't pursue an opportunity aggressively enough?

So then, to compensate, we often adopt a strategy that can actually make matters worse: We over-correct. We think we missed out on the perfect (whatever) because we didn’t try hard enough.

So now… we are going to TRY. Very hard. Again and again. Until we win. At every opportunity.

FROM E.L.F.

At work or in school, or when attempting to master any new skill, trying harder can be a necessary and effective adjustment. But in romance, trying to earn your way into a man’s heart isn’t a healthy strategy. Believing that you lost out on the perfect love match because you didn’t go for it aggressively enough… well, it sounds logical. But male-female dynamics just don’t operate that way.

FROM ZALES

 Relax... You are enough, just as you are.  Photo:   Sylvia Haghjoo

Relax... You are enough, just as you are. Photo: Sylvia Haghjoo

Trying to earn your way into a man’s heart isn’t a healthy strategy.

Women tend to be happiest and most fulfilled in relationships where we feel unconditionally loved and accepted. Some use the word cherished to describe this feeling of being wholly appreciated. You know you are enough for him, that you don’t need to prove anything, and that he enjoys your very essence. He just feels better when you’re around, and he values you for it.

  Learn how to  rock The Rules your own way  for a lifetime of lasting love. #ReadRobyn

Learn how to rock The Rules your own way for a lifetime of lasting love. #ReadRobyn

Relationships work best when a woman feels “cherished“ — he appreciates your very essence.

Working to earn a man’s interest results in an unhealthy dynamic. Relationship “work” could include:

  • Contacting him too frequently. You fear that if you don't check in regularly — reminding him that you exist — he'll slip away and move on to someone new. 
  • Initiating dates. You believe that if you don't suggest going out, it will never happen. Don't let misguided co-workers and their online dating escapades fool you into thinking "everything is different" now. Romance still work best when you allow him the space to pursue you.
  • Telling yourself that you have a "relationship" when it is really just an entanglement. Does each "date" with him have to end in sex? Until, eventually, you aren't leaving his place at all? Regular sex + flowers on your birthday doesn't equal a relationship. If you're looking for lasting love, don't settle for a Friends With Benefits situationship.   
  • Doing material favors for him. When you're married, you're on the same team: it's a "we" game, and you support each other in winning. Until you're married, though, hold off on helping him live his life. Don't lend him money, watch his kids, or help him with his career. 

FROM BCBG

Is it him? Or is it you?

If you find yourself in a situation where you do feel the need to prove your worth to him — to win his attention and get him to focus on you — then you’re on a losing path for sure. Either he is taking advantage of you, or the problem is within you and your need to continually audition for his affection.

An emotionally mature man is uncomfortable in the receiver role, even if all he’s receiving is your focus on him. Many men can’t explain why this seems wrong, especially in the early stages of dating. He won’t give you a heads-up — he’s going to keep that uncomfortable feeling to himself. Instead, he may just conclude that he can’t trust you. That maybe you are being fake-nice, hiding something, or otherwise being manipulative. Perhaps you are overly interested in him because you want something from him…?

Logo
Zales

Of course, that’s not what you mean. You just want to ensure that a promising relationship blossoms.

But your effort does NOT spark romantic interest in men.

While you certainly can get more dates by asking for a man’s help, inviting him for coffee, sending all those texts and fascinating articles, offering to split the check, and coaxing along the process, the end result will not be the type of relationship you want.

#NeverGiveUp

If “working hard” has always worked for you in other areas of life, it may be a difficult habit to give up. And if you’ve never experienced the feeling of being cherished, you might believe that a man’s love is something you have to earn through your actions. That’s okay. Just be open-minded. Now is the perfect time to try something new….

Lots of Love,
Robyn

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.

A version of this article was previously published by the lovely people at The Wellness Universe.

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.

Logo
Zales

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.” 

IGXO Cosmetics

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.

 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.

 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.

Tommy Hilfiger

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.”

 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

THE PERFECT GIFT FOR ANY MAN

the secret to getting closer to 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.
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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.  
TIP: A man knows he is at his best, most masculine self, when he can protect and provide for others. Your vulnerability helps bring his best self to the surface.

Your vulnerability unlocks his loving, protective side.

FROM ZALES

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.)

TIP: A man simply can't fall in love with you — not in a deep, lasting way — if he doesn't first feel protective toward you.  

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
  • Be real

Your authentic vulnerability may turn out to be the most exquisite present of all — a surprising gift that allows him to bond and connect with you in a powerful and lasting way.

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.

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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.)

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  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.)
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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

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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.

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.

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 goddess, 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:

FROM BCBG

#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.

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#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.

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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.

CAN YOU MAKE SOMEONE FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU?

Can you make a man fall in love with you? The surprising answer is yes. . . sort of.

While we imagine the process of falling in love to be magical, mystical, and mostly out of our control, the fact is that there is actually a formula for triggering romantic feelings in another person.

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Some people are naturally seductive, and can’t help but spread a little amor wherever they go. We say those folks (male and female) have charisma or “it”—an instant appeal that transcends physical appearance, talents, wealth, and all other qualities you may think you need to find a quality mate. In fact, charm can be learned—you don’t need to be born with it, and you certainly don’t need to be extraordinarily blessed with beauty or wealth to create attraction in others. We can’t cover every nuance of creating instant attraction in this article, but the formula itself is simple:

Bypass your date’s rational mindset and trigger his romantic instinct.

  1. Bypass his rational brain. Seeking to impress others with your accomplishments, physical appearance, and smarts will trigger your date’s rational mindset and encourage him to assess and evaluate you logically—“Is she a 10 or a 2?”—throwing ice-cold water on more tender and protective feelings. When we activate a man’s rational brain, we unwittingly get in the way of his mating/bonding impulse.
  2. Trigger his impulsive/instinctive mindset. Create a mood that allows his instincts to take over. In an impulsive state, we don’t rationally evaluate someone’s amazing qualities and qualifications. (That comes later when we’re considering a committed relationship.) Both men and women delight in an attraction that “doesn’t make sense” or that we can’t quite explain—that instinctive pull toward someone we barely know.

So how can you trigger romantic instincts in a real-world situation, like a date? While it’s true that some basic level of physical attraction has to exist first (you are a man’s “type” for example), there are steps you can take to ensure that initial attraction leads to an emotional bond:

Practice the Art of Gentle Conversation 

Constant chatter and noisy activity are ways to avoid the potential awkwardness of silence. But all that buzz suppresses our natural instincts. The next time you have a conversation with someone—a friend, a coworker, anyone—try to observe the natural ebb and flow of your words. Do you frequently interrupt, fill space, or work doggedly to “get your point across”? Instead, practice engaging with people in a more gentle way—floating on the surface of the conversation is one way to visualize it—and let go of the need to direct everyone toward your opinions and views.  

Spread Peace 

When you settle into a friend’s sofa for a long chat and a cup of tea, you are naturally welcoming, open, and languorous. Your friend knows she can talk about anything with you, without judgement, and that she has your full attention. That’s the peaceful feeling you want to bring with you on dates. Put away your phone, remove your watch, and move slowly, as if you have all the time in the world (everyone knows you don’t). If this is a first meeting, then agree ahead of time to keep it appropriately brief—but that doesn’t mean you should act rushed, distracted, or like this date is yet another “task” in a long day of multitasking.   

Let Your Eyes Do The Talking

More than 20 years ago, social psychology researcher Arthur Aron demonstrated that sustained eye contact can produce feelings of love between total strangers. (Some of Dr. Aron’s study participants actually went on to marry their randomly-selected gazing partner.) That’s how powerful eye contact can be in creating a feeling of intense emotional connection. If you’re practicing “gentle” conversation and bringing a peaceful quality to your interactions with men, your eyes will naturally begin to speak for you. Be careful: aggressively seeking out a stranger’s eyes can be interpreted as a sexual invitation—a signal you may not have intended. But in conversation, returning a man’s gaze and holding sustained eye contact are wonderful ways to show respect, interest, and build rapport and connection.  

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

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

DATING WITH AN OPEN HEART

What does it mean to embrace a man with an open heart?

For most of us, this means dropping our masks and being a little vulnerable. Maybe revealing the parts of our lives that aren’t perfect and polished—the stuff no one ever posts on Facebook. There is also an implied reciprocity: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. And an expectation that we’ll accept each other’s’ flaws gracefully and without judgment.

Having an open heart towards others is relatively straightforward in relationships where trust and emotional intimacy already exist—among parents and children, husbands and wives, or the closest of friends, for example. But how do we apply this ideal in a setting like dating, where the participants are basically strangers, perhaps with competing agendas and motives? A bigger question might be:

Should we automatically approach potential romantic partners in an open-hearted way? 

The short answer is Yes—as long as you keep in mind that healthy love includes a healthy respect for yourself and your own needs. If you are a single woman who aspires to live and love in an authentic way, these 3 tips will help you fold into your approach a healthy dose of self-esteem:

  1. You can have an open heart and still maintain healthy boundaries. Emotionally mature men expect that there are areas of your life that are off-limits until trust and connection have been established. (In fact, these very men will feel unsure about you if you seem wishy-washy about what is or is not ok within the relationship.) Being “open” does not require you to reveal personal details or deeply hurtful or damaging episodes from your past. When you reveal yourself slowly, over several dates, you send the message that you put a high value on intimacy; you don’t share your story with just anyone.
  2. Putting safety first doesn’t make you defensive—just smart. Online dating and singles events are a wonderfully powerful way to increase your odds of meeting Mr. Right because they put you in touch with men outside your usual social circles. But mixing it up also increases some risks. Always exercise common sense. You can be open to who he is but still feel comfortable saying no to any suggestion that doesn’t feel right.
  3. Highlighting your femininity will automatically create an open environment for the men you date. I’ve written previously on the power of a woman’s authentic femininity and “how to harness your unique feminine essence to attract emotionally evolved men into your life.” By emphasizing your own difference—really owning the things that make you special—you free others to embrace their differences as well. This is a subtle way to let your date know that you’re not going to judge him for “acting like a guy” (i.e., being himself) or expect him to be a mind-reading empathy ninja like your female friends (which just sets him up to fail). Being feminine is a great way to connect with people in a vulnerable way, but still demonstrate self-respect and a healthy appreciation for personal boundaries.

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

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

HE WON'T COMMIT? 3 REASONS WHY THAT MAY BE A GOOD THING

Can you relate? After 4 or 5 dates with a great guy— nerdy in that hot way you like, or devilishly handsome but somehow really nice you are sold.

The gentleman in question perfectly matches the “boyfriend” job description in your head, and you are ready to hire. You fantasize about changing your Facebook relationship status because of him. You consider canceling coffee with that random Tinder dude you’re supposed to meet next Tuesday.

Yet, Mr. Wonderful seems content to keep things where they are. He likes you and he clearly wants to keep dating you, but words like “exclusive” and “girlfriend” just aren’t rolling off his tongue. 

What should you do to get him to level up? 

Is it time to have "The Talk" so you don't waste any more time?

The good news is that the best path for you to take is also the path that is most likely to draw him to you for a committed relationship, if that is part of his future plan. And that is to sit back and enjoy the phase you’re in right now—casually dating someone with potential—and consider these 3 potential benefits to delaying exclusivity:

Benefit #1: Information Is Power

The longer you delay exclusivity, the more information you will have about each person you are dating. Almost any guy can seem like a prince for a few weeks or months, but what happens when he starts to reveal the “real” him? If you are dating multiple people—which I highly encourage, provided you are also delaying physical intimacy—you may be surprised to find that your ultimate best match is not the guy you originally targeted. Always let the best man win!

Benefit #2: Real Men Date With Their Brains Switched On

Sure, it may seem romantic to get caught up in a whirlwind romance, with a man whispering that you are The One by the second date. But let’s be real. Emotionally healthy men—you know, the kind that make great husbands—often choose to take their time before they commit to a special woman. I’m not talking about dragging his feet endlessly for months, but having the maturity and self-discipline to step back emotionally and make sure that you fit into his life, in a long-term way, before he presses you for exclusivity.

Benefit #3: If It Occurs Too Early, Becoming Exclusive May Actually Slow Down Courtship

A man loves knowing that his girlfriend is a high-status, in-demand woman.When a man locks you down too early, he may miss out on the pleasure of “winning” you over from your single status. Now he’s got you—but is some of the fire and momentum fizzling out? Is he regretting his move, and starting to look around at other women? It is far better to become exclusive after you’re sure that you have truly captivated him and he deeply appreciates all you can bring to his life.

Always keep these benefits in mind when you find yourself really liking someone and hoping he will initiate The Talk. Appreciate where you’re at today, and understand that your pace and his don’t have to line up perfectly for this to be a true love match.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. If you're online dating (or thinking about it) read How To Have An Awesome First Date With An Online Guy for road-tested tips and advice. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

ALL MEN ARE PLAYERS

When you start falling for a new man, does a bit of fear creep in along with the euphoria and excitement? 

Do you sometimes wonder: Is he really a good guy... or a player? Fear of "players" keeps a lot of single women on the dating sidelines, or causes us to take on a defensive position with men that chills the glow of mutual attraction. In fact, allowing these fears to control your mindset and approach is no more "realistic" or clear-headed than assuming each new date is Mr. Right.

Just as a woman might adjust her behavior and expectations to suit each new romantic encounter, a man may also reveal different intentions and character traits with each woman he pursues. With time and experience, we all have the ability to mature, heal wounds, and strengthen our relationship skills. So let’s look at this whole player issue from a different angle.

All Men Are Players - New Direction Dating

A true player is focused on one thing: What can I get from her? But this is a normal dynamic in any fresh encounter between two human beings. “Is this other person useful to me in any way?” is something you, yourself, might wonder when you meet any new person. Why should it be any different when the encounter is between two single people who also have the potential to become a romantic match? When a man first meets you, it is only natural that he will mentally tick through some of the things he might get from you. Depending on what he wants and what he thinks you can offer, the list looks something like this:

“What Can I Get From Her?”

  • Sex
  • Ego boost—the rush and affirmation of seducing a member of the opposite sex
  • Distraction—the chance to escape from worries or boredom
  • Status—if she is particularly attractive or desirable
  • Emotional support / Companionship
  • Career contacts and networking
  • Financial support
  • Many other non-romantic possibilities

If you satisfy his wish list right away—before he has had a chance to get to know you and connect with you emotionally —he may well move on quickly, without a glance back. There was no time for a connection to build and grow. Similarly, if you allow your relationship to revolve around satisfying his need—career networking, financial support, sex, or free childcare — then he’s only ever going to view you as a source for that thing, not as a full romantic partner.

After your guy disappears, you may be tempted to call him a “player” — and for sure a handful of those exist — but it is also possible that it was your willingness to turn the relationship into a transaction that flipped his outta here switch.   

If you take things slowly and allow a deeper relationship to develop, his focus on “getting” will fade away. A man in love — who is emotionally invested and connected to you — will barely think at all about what you can do for him or give to him, and will focus almost entirely on what he can do for or give to you. The same man who engaged only in romantic transactions in his past relationships — because he wasn’t emotionally bonded with his partners — can become an authentic, loving mate with you.

TIP: As a relationship deepens, a man's focus on “getting” will fade away. A man in love will barely think at all about what you can do for him, and will focus almost entirely on what he can do for you.

This is why the idea that there is a "shortage of good men" is misleading. There is no shortage. The good men are there, but you have to learn how to turn them on emotionally before they’re allowed to start getting things from you. If you choose to hand over all your valuable stuff before he has a chance to truly connect with you, then accept the fact that you have allowed him to play.

TIP: A Player is simply any man who is not emotionally invested in you — yet. Don’t give him what he wants right away, but don't reject him outright just because he tried. He may hang in there long enough for a true connection to grow.

Did you know that some single men have an irrational fear of being used by women for financial gain? The idea that a woman might be on Tinder or Match only to obtain a free dinner or movie is an urban legend that is alive and well in male dating forums. While my female clients may find that idea pretty ridiculous (they’d rather be home with a good book) it is true that the typical female focus on commitment and marriage can feel a lot like a “getting” mentality to men. He is looking for the simple pleasure of a night out with a pretty woman — you want a diamond ring and 2 children. (That’s how it can seem to him, anyway.) Here’s the mental assessment a woman on a first date might make:

“What Can I Get From Him?”

  • Marriage
  • Emotional support / Companionship
  • Financial support
  • Status—if he is particularly wealthy or successful
  • Ego boost—the rush and affirmation of seducing a member of the opposite sex
  • Sex
  • Career contacts and networking
  • Many other non-romantic possibilities

So are women players if we target a man based on his marriage and “provider” potential and disqualify men who don’t match a certain level of earning power or job stability? Let’s just say that any time either gender is in “get” mode, we are at risk of turning off the very people we hope to attract. So let’s cut each other a little slack. A man may take what he can get in the short term — that’s human nature — but assume that, ultimately, your date is longing to connect deeply with someone special. And it could be you! 

READ NEXT: RELATIONSHIP OR "ENTANGLEMENT" — DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. If you're online dating (or thinking about it) read How To Have An Awesome First Date With An Online Guy for road-tested tips and advice. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

DON'T TRIP HIM BEFORE HE HAS A CHANCE TO FALL

As a Dating Coach, this is the # 1 mistake I see women make with men. . .

In our minds, we get way ahead of where a man is at in his attraction cycle. As a result, our expectations and assumptions sky-rocket out of control, and we end up scaring him away—sometimes before he has even asked for a phone number!

#1 Dating Mistake

It is totally understandable. A woman is so excited about meeting a guy with potential—one who is clearly attracted to and interested in her—that her “future-thinking” switch gets flipped, and she starts daydreaming about the relationship she feels destined to have with him. Unfortunately, this private fantasizing can impact her behavior, and sabotage the fragile attraction that is still developing. 

Fairly or unfairly, this is how confident, attractive women can get branded as “needy” before anyone has even rounded first base. We linger too long at the end of a conversation—that dreaded 3-second pause—looking expectantly at the guy as if he should now ask for the digits. (In your mind, that first date seems inevitable because he is clearly so into you—total future-thinking foolishness.) Instead of being a breath of fresh air, and just enjoying the flirtatious energy, your expectant look turns you into an obligation. You have an idea he “should” be asking you out, and already he feels a little less attracted because it’s clear you’re “needing” him to take action. He moves on to flirt with someone new, and you’re left disappointed and wondering what happened….

The best way for a woman to learn how to slow down and reel in her expectations during the attraction phase is to understand how men experience these early feelings. I invite you to listen to the song “Take Your Time” by Sam Hunt. These lyrics perfectly capture the contradictory push and pull of emotions that a man can feel during that first encounter with an attractive woman:

Come on, let’s see where it goes... 
I don’t want to steal your freedom
I don’t want to change your mind
I don’t have to make you love me
I just want to take your time

I don’t have to meet your mother
We don’t have to cross that line
I don’t want to steal your covers
I just want to take your time

I don’t want to blow your phone up
I just want to blow your mind
I don’t have to take your heart
I just want to take your time

For some women—raised on unrealistic, Hollywood romance—the inner monologue of this song sounds a little too hesitant, lukewarm, and not exactly like Prince Charming territory. But I promise that it neatly captures the one-step-forward, three-steps-back pace of a man’s growing affections. After the relationship develops, he may not even remember these hesitant feelings. He will tell his friends, “I knew she was The One the minute I saw her.” But, actually, most emotionally healthy men need to go through the slow burn of getting to know you, and fall in love gradually. His sexual attraction happens quickly, but emotional connection builds slowly. He does not necessarily have a vision for the future—or even next week—at this initial encounter.

Don’t judge him for it. Don’t be impatient with him. The next time you meet someone promising, practice enjoying the moment and let go of any expectation that you’ll see him again. Just let the story unfold and think to yourself, “let’s see where it goes.” When you let him set the pace—and don’t trip him up with your needs and wants—he may reveal that inner Prince, after all.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. If you're online dating (or thinking about it) read How To Have An Awesome First Date With An Online Guy for road-tested tips and advice. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR DIGITAL ROMANCE.