A 'RULES' DATING MAKE-OVER: MEET JENNIFER, SINGLE MOM

This transcript is from a BlogTalk Radio interview with host Jennifer Williams. 

Jennifer is a 30-something divorced, single mom who survived an 11-year marriage to an emotionally abusive spouse. When we first spoke in August 2014 she had given up on ever dating seriously or getting married again. Since then she has followed 'The Rules' and met a great guy online, and they have been dating for 7 months. Jennifer shares her struggles with learning to do The Rules, overcoming trust issues, and trying to set a good example for her sons.

The Gentleman is alive and well.   Inspiration from  Gentleman's Essentials . 

The Gentleman is alive and well.  Inspiration from Gentleman's Essentials

Jennifer: We have a wonderful guest back today who has a website that has changed my life, and I’m sure she will change your life as well. I’m going to be bringing in Robyn Wahlgast.

Robyn, I was just saying that you’ve changed my life completely because I never thought about seriously dating again, but once we did the original show and you gave me some pointers…I tell you, I’m loving it. This whole cuddle buddy thing is awesome, especially in the winter time.

Robyn: Well, that’s so great to hear. I really appreciate hearing that from you, Jennifer. You know, a good, healthy relationship adds so much to our lives, and that’s true for men and women. We often think it’s women who are chasing commitment and marriage, but men have a deep need for that connection too. And we forget that sometimes. There are lots of great guys out there. So if you are single, this is a good time to start making some resolutions—it’s early in the year—and get your game plan together for finding a lasting relationship.

Jennifer: It’s funny that you point that out about men because I was wild as a buck and this sweetheart [Jennifer’s current boyfriend]—we met on one of the dating websites—he kept after me, saying “settle down, settle down.”  And I said, “I don’t want to settle down” because I had so much baggage from the bad, past relationship with my ex-husband. And I just automatically assume every man is going to be like him.

So my boyfriend has been the one pushing for commitment. Finally, at Christmas, after dating for almost 5 months, I said “might as well” [become exclusive] and it has been really nice. Up until that point I was the one being the wild child. And I realized that men are looking for a relationship just as much as women are.

Robyn: That’s absolutely true, and actually what you did was perfect because you let him chase you, and you let him come to the decision that you are a woman worth chasing. And that’s such a wonderful dynamic on both sides. Because as a woman, being pursued reassures us that we’re with a man who really values us, and that’s so important. And for the guy, the pursuit allows him to realize how much he feels for you. If he has to chase you a little bit, and pin you down, and get you to agree to go out with him and be with him, that’s such a great dynamic. 

TIP: Many men are looking for a committed relationship just as much as women are. If you let him lead the relationship, you will get there together.

The other part you said that’s such a great message, is that as women it can be very easy for us to start name-calling and blaming, when things don’t work out with men. There are lots of names that we use against men when we’re mad because a relationship didn’t work out.  Back in my day, we said men were commitment-phobes: every guy who didn’t want to marry you or didn’t want to keep dating you got called a commitment-phobe. Of course there are men and women out there for whom the commitment-phobe label is accurate in a clinical sense; but most of the time, the way we use that label, it just means that things didn’t work out for us, and the guy just didn’t love us enough.  

Look, I think it’s o.k. to be in a little bit of denial when you are fresh from a breakup. For a brief period, it’s o.k. to tell yourself, "It was all his fault, I did everything right"—that allows you to move on with dignity. But once you’ve moved on, it’s important to go back and look with a fresh eye at your past relationships and say, Is there something there I could have done differently?

That’s why it isn’t always the right thing to do after a divorce or a breakup, to just start immediately dating, if you haven’t yet figured out why, exactly, things didn't work out. And that's something a dating coach can help you figure out, if you're not sure. Book a private consultation if you need help reviewing past relationships. Maybe the problems really were created by your ex, and now that you're free you're filled with self-doubt and confusion. It's important to re-set your "healthy relationship" radar after a breakup.

TIP: After a break-up or divorce, make sure you understand why it didn't work out, and if you could have done anything differently. Otherwise, you may simply repeat unhealthy patterns with each new man.

Jennifer: I have several friends who just jumped right into dating, and it drives me nuts, because they are with a new guy every week. They jump from relationship to relationship. [Because they haven’t learned from the past, and are just repeating the same mistakes.]  You see they are tagging a different person each week on Facebook. And this will sound old-fashioned, but I think it’s wrong that they’ll broadcast all this on social media. When the relationship is going well, it’s cute, but then when things are sour they are still broadcasting it. And I tell friends, don’t post all the details about your relationship where everyone can see.

Robyn: And quite honestly, men appreciate when women are discreet about a relationship. That is something guys really value. Because later on, when you’re married, he doesn’t want to think of you sitting around with your female friends gossiping about your own marriage. Plus, posting about him on social media makes him think that he is the center of your universe and you have nothing else going on in your life but him—that is not attractive to an emotionally healthy guy. (In fact, consider it a red flag if a man insists that you drop everything and make him the center of your world, at the expense of your own needs and priorities—that can be a path toward emotional abuse.) 

TIP: Don't post about your guy on social media; it suggests that you have no interests outside of your relationship with him. That is not attractive to an emotionally healthy man.  

Jennifer: Well, you helped me to attract a man, and I want to make sure we share your 7 Tips For Attracting Lasting Love.

Robyn: Sure, this is a list that came about from looking back over the last 6 months’ worth of consultations and questions from women all over the country—of all ages—and seeing what types of issues and concerns single women have right now in the dating scene.   

First, I want to touch on over-40 dating because I’ve been noticing a lot more articles aimed at single women over 40 (and even over 35). My approach is really the opposite of what a lot of these dating coaches and articles advise. I believe that what works for a woman who is 25 will work for a woman who is 65+—and for all the ages in between. I understand why these dating coaches and advisers are targeting women over 35, because it is seen as a very lucrative market. But I fear that it’s sending a wrong message to older single women that they somehow need to follow a “different” approach to dating because of their age, and that’s simply not true. It’s a shame when older women, who may have grown up with a more conservative approach to dating and romance, feel like they have to throw away all that knowledge and start over because “things are different now” and “there are no more rules.”

TIP: If you're over 40, don't throw away all your hard-earned knowledge about male-female relationships, thinking “things are different now” and “there are no more rules.” The Rules of dating have not changed.

Love can find you at any age. There is no wrong time in your life to get married. I’m a fan of marriage. I believe it benefits both men and women, equally, and that both men and women get so much that is positive from a healthy marriage. (Of course, it’s much better to be single than to enter into an unhealthy marriage.) How you date and relate to men lays the groundwork for a healthy marriage. Sometimes women think, I should just get out there and follow my heart and do what I feel in the moment. But I suggest that you really think about whether there is a foundation of respect in how men treat you—and that you put rules in place that require respect—because that will carry through to marriage.

What you start with when you’re dating is what you’re going to continue to have when you’re married. He’s not going to change—bad behavior is not going to get better—so the main difference after you’re married is that it will be much harder to leave him because your lives are now bound up together. So when you’re dating, pay attention to signs of anger, criticism, "teasing" that is hurtful, and disrespectful behavior, and don’t hesitate to walk away if you start to feel like you can never please him. It is much harder to walk away after you are married.

TIP: Pay attention to how he treats you when you’re dating, because that dynamic will continue through into marriage. You can't love, understand, or reassure a man into treating you betterno matter how hard you try. 

Jennifer: I actually have a dating question, that has come up among my friends, about when men should pay for dates. When I was growing up my mother always made sure I had money in my bag when I went out, just in case my date didn’t pay. But she still said, “He’s the one who’s supposed to pay.”

Now, before I met my current boyfriend, I paid for several dates with men because I knew I made more money that those guys. But now, with my current boyfriend, he has not let me pay for one thing, which is something new for me. It’s hard to get used to for me. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoy it—but it is something new. In your opinion, when a woman is on a first date, what should she do? Should she reach over and try to pick up the check or just sit there and let him pay?

Robyn: Right. This gets down to the essence of a word that’s so important, and we women don’t always think about it enough, and that’s respect. A man who really likes you and is interested in you will assume that he has to treat you with respect. You can call that “behaving like a gentleman” or “treating you like a lady”—those are old-fashioned phrases that some people no longer relate to—so I like to use the word “respect” because everyone understands that.

When a man wants to pay for your dinner, he is saying to you, “I’m interested in you romantically—we aren’t just friends.” He’s letting you know right up front that he has romantic intentions. And he’s being respectful by offering to pay. It doesn’t matter how much money he makes, or if you have more money than he does. As you get into a relationship, he can choose venues and activities that work for his budget. We’re not gold-diggers here. We don’t need to go to fancy restaurants if that’s not something he can afford. So we’re letting him plan the date, and the expectation should be that he will pay.

TIP: One way a man can show respect for you is to pay for the date. It doesn't matter if you make more money than he does. Emotionally healthy men enjoy taking you out and they expect nothing in returnexcept to hopefully see you again. 

Many women struggle with this because we’re not used to seeking respect. We’re used to thinking that men should find us pretty and adore us, but we don’t think enough about whether a man respects us. For guys, respect is the romantic trigger. Respect is the first flame. If he doesn't feel respect for you, then you are just another flower in the garden. 

TIP: A man may be sexually attracted to many different women, but only when respect is present will he begin to feel something deeper. For men, respect is the first flicker of love.

Jennifer: For me, being treated so well is hard to get used to. I met my boyfriend online, so for our first meeting I chose the mall because it’s a public place. As I walked through the mall doors, he stood up, and as I got to the second set of doors he was already holding them open for me. I said, “You realize I can open the doors myself” and he said, “But you shouldn’t have to.” Then we go to sit down, and he pulled my chair out for me.... And now that we’ve been together awhile I can accept that that’s just how he treats me. When he comes to pick me up for dates, he gets out of the car and walks around and holds my door for me and helps me in. Guys, take note: old-fashioned charm really works!

Robyn: Right. One mistake we can make as women, is we lower our expectations for how men should behave with us. And when we lower our expectations we tend to get a lower level of treatment. When you just expect that men will treat you well, you get better treatment. And you also get really good at weeding out guys who don’t want to meet your standards. You end up only dating emotionally healthy men. Because you simply won’t put up with lesser treatment.  Once that mental switch gets flipped in your brain, you just won’t accept less.

You do have to see for yourself—so you can believe and experience it—that there are men out there in every age category who want to treat you well. I hear from younger women in their 20s who say, My generation of men doesn’t behave like this. But that’s not the whole truth. Many men do know "the rules" of dating, and would do them if they felt they had to. But what has happened is they don’t feel like they have to follow the Gentleman’s Rules, because there are plenty of girls who will accept less.

Jennifer: I will say, my boyfriend is younger than me. So that’s no excuse—women can’t say that—because guys like him are living proof that even younger men will behave right for the right woman. It’s how his mother raised him. And that’s so important. I have all sons. I recently made my son give his girlfriend a rose on Valentine’s Day—I told him he has to show her that he loves her. And of course she was thrilled. And he was so happy afterward and he said, “Mom, she really loved it” and I said “Yes, women love flowers and presents—listen to mom, it will take you far.”

It’s all about you, as a woman, letting them know how they have to treat you. And I did not understand that. It has taken me a long time. When we did the last show it taught me a lot—I’ve listened to it several times since then. You’ve got great advice—it really works.

TIP: A man who really likes you and is interested in you will assume that he has to treat you with respect. You can call that “behaving like a gentleman” or “treating you like a lady”—but the underlying message is respect.

Robyn: It’s interesting, as women, we want to tell men how to treat us, because we are very verbal creatures. We believe in the power of words. We tell each other when we don’t like behavior, like if we have an issue with a female friend, we’ll say “Oh, it really hurt my feelings when you did X, Y, and Z.” And your friend will say, “Oh, I didn’t meant to hurt you, I’ll never do that again” and she doesn’t. But with men it’s all about nonverbal communication.

Jennifer: Women really need to date more than one person for a while. Otherwise, you’re not really going to recognize and appreciate when you find a great guy.

Robyn: This is a lesson a lot of women struggle with, because we meet a guy, we like him a lot, and we start to project all these wonderful qualities onto him right away. Qualities that may or may not truly be there. And we want to stop dating other men right away because we’re sure he’s The One. The problem is that you really don’t learn about someone’s character and their morals until you’ve dated for several months. It takes months of watching and saying “Ok, he said he would do this, but did he actually follow through.” You have to see a pattern of follow-through—a pattern of reliability—to know if a man is really going to be a good partner for you.

Don’t become exclusive too quickly. Over time, you may discover that Mr. Wonderful is not so very wonderful. So wait to become intimate, until he has demonstrated that he’s for real and has a good character. Because it’s hard to pull away if you’re already in a relationship.

The typical call I get from a woman in a relationship is made up of these questions: 

  • Will he propose?
  • When will he propose?
  • How can I make him propose faster?

That’s the main reason women want a consultation. Unfortunately, more than half the time I have to say that I can’t take them on as a client because after I learn more about the relationship, I feel they are dating someone who they should not marry because there is evidence of emotional abuse. There may be signs that he won’t be faithful, or that he is unreasonably jealous or controlling—that nothing the woman can ever do will be “enough” for him. The first 3 months of dating were wonderful, but now some cracks are appearing. And that’s a hard message for women to hear—even if, deep down, they have suspected that something is "off" and they are relieved to have confirmation that they aren’t crazy. There may be children involved—hers or his—or other family members, and now their lives are intertwined and it is very hard to break free.

That’s a great reason to take things slow, and let people into your life very slowly. Date others and keep it light as long as you can. Because you will be much less likely to find yourself deeply involved with someone who could only maintain his good behavior at the beginning stages.

TIP: Let the best man win: Date others and keep things light (no intimacy) as long as you can. Don’t become exclusive too quickly, before you really know his character and values.

Jennifer: And that’s especially important if you have kids. I can’t stand when women bring men in and out of their lives, in front of their kids. I had to know [my boyfriend] for almost 6 months before I let him even meet my kids. Children have to have stability and something to depend on. 

Robyn: Yes. A lot of single moms struggle with these boundaries. When you think a man is really terrific, it’s very tempting to bring him together with your kids too soon, because you’re in a fantasy land where you think you’ve maybe found a great dad for them. So what you did was very smart. You waited 6 months before bringing them together, and that’s a very appropriate amount of time, especially with younger kids who are living at home. It should be a privilege for a man to meet your children. This is good advice for single dads, too—it should be a privilege for anyone you’re dating to get to spend time with your kids.

TIP: It should be a privilege for someone you’re dating to get to spend time with your children. Bring a new boyfriend into your life slowly. 

Jennifer: It’s so hard because once you’ve brought a man into your kids’ lives, you really feel stuck. And that’s something single moms should really think about before they introduce a man they’re dating to their children.

Our time is about up. Time really flies when I talk to you! We didn’t even get to the 7 Tips For Finding Lasting Love[Click here to read Robyn’s 7 Tips For Finding Lasting Love, with BlogTalk Radio's Rikki R. Jones.]

Robyn: Thanks, Jennifer. I encourage all the single ladies to sign up for my newsletter, it’s absolutely free, and the topics are generated by my readers. Whatever is on everyone’s mind—from online dating to getting over a breakup to self-esteem issues—that’s what I will address in the newsletter.

Jennifer: And your advice works!

Robyn: My last tip for everybody is to buy and read The Rules, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider—they just celebrated the book’s 20th anniversary. It was published in 1995 but the advice is still fresh and relevant today, and that’s the foundation for all of my advice. Your action item, if you’re single, is to take a look at The Rules, and read my blog, and you will be well on your way to finding lasting love. 

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. If you're curious about The Rules, find out how to rock The Rules your own way and why reading The Rules book just might change your life. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.  

7 TIPS FOR ATTRACTING LASTING LOVE

This post is an excerpt from a special podcast with Radio Host Extraordinaire, Rikki R. Jones. We talk about using ‘The Rules’ to date with healthy boundaries and attract lasting love and marriage. Rikki and her listeners—including a few gentlemen—bring something special to the discussion. In fact, the men tell us that 'The Rules' are absolutely right, and that single ladies should be careful about over-giving....

You are enough.

Rikki: Today’s topic is dating in a new way. My guest, Robyn Wahlgast, is a happily married mother of three who has been helping single women find lasting love and marriage for over a decade. She is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and believes in the power of ‘The Rules’ of dating. Robyn's corporate career has taken her from Manhattan to Santa Monica, and she currently resides in the Midwest with her family where she blogs and coaches women full time. Robyn’s dating advice newsletter currently has over 10,000 loyal subscribers, and her articles have been syndicated at FOX News Magazine,YourTango.com, Divorced Singles News, and The Wellness Universe.

Single, divorced, or married—we all need some kind of coach, someone to talk to, to give us helpful hints. Everyone is making such a fuss about Valentine’s Day but after today is over we all still need that support. We hear a lot about coaching, and we know what that means on the field, but what is a Dating and Relationship Coach?

Robyn: Right. When women are thinking about dating help they aren’t thinking about “coaching.” You go to Google and put in something like “dating advice” or “help—I can’t meet any normal, nice guys!” but not “dating coach.” The main thing about a dating coach—or any kind of coach—is that our advice is behavior-based help. So we help you alter your behavior. It’s different from going to a therapist or a counselor who’s working from the inside out. If therapy is part of what someone needs then that’s terrific and you should pursue that, but oftentimes adjusting behavior and learning new ways to act can be a terrific catalyst in your life and you can actually see immediate change. Because when you behave differently that sets in motion a chain reaction and people around you react to you differently, and you might start to get different results. That immediate feedback is very encouraging.

I am a Rules Certified Dating Coach, and what that means is that I trained with Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider who wrote the book The Rules. The Rules is a really terrific book. A great action item for any single woman who is looking for commitment and marriage is to take a look at that book—there’s actually a new version called Not Your Mother’s Rules that’s aimed at Millennial women, but it’s also great for a woman of any age. ‘The Rules’ is behavior modeling. It’s showing you how to act “as if” you have good boundaries, “as if” you have your life together—even if you feel that you don’t have every part of your act together. By acting a certain way you will start to attract the right person into your life.

SUGGESTED READING


Dating is a lot like fishing: if you put the right bait out there you’re going to catch the type of fish you want. You want to be with a man who likes himself, who is going places in life—he may not be there yet, but he has a plan. He’s emotionally healthy. As women, we don’t always understand or know, in a practical sense, how to communicate that we have healthy boundaries. With men it’s all about nonverbal communication. You can’t walk up to a man and say, “I think highly of myselfI hope you do, too—so treat me like a queen or else....” That doesn’t work. Women might actually listen to that, but with a guy, you really have to show him how to treat you.

So that’s what coaching is—helping someone learn new behaviors. Reading the book The Rules will get you really far toward that goal.

I myself was single for many years in Manhattan, which is kind of a laboratory for single people, because there are so many single people there, and people stay single a long time. You can cook along very happily when you’re busy and you have a demanding career, and just go along on your little train track and not look up and say, Hey, I might be missing out on the bigger picture here. So I was lucky in that I found The Rules, I read the book, and started going to seminars that Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider were presenting in New York at the time—this was the 90s—and I had a couple of phone consultations with Sherrie, and it was very eye-opening to me that you could have just a phone conversation with somebody and have it dramatically impact what you’re doing. I just kind of filed that experience away in the back of my head. I didn’t say, Oh, I’m now inspired to be a dating coachbut I did file it away.

Later on, when I started online dating, women started to come to me for advice. They could see that I was doing something different. This was the 90s and there were no guidelines for online dating. I met the wonderful man who is now my husband through an online dating site in 2001—and that was still early days for online dating. So I had women coming to me saying, Hey, you’re actually going on good dates with nice, normal guys—what are you doing that’s different? I realized that I had a strategy, I had some online dating rules that I was putting in place, so I started sharing those strategies with other women. For example: It’s about quality, not quantity—you have to do a lot of screening up front. So over time, the coaching transitioned from being a hobby to being what I do full-time.  And of course now I have a blog where I share those online dating tips, and they are all available, for free, on this website. (Read How To Have An Awesome First Date With An Online Guy for the first set of tips.)

So The Rules was really my introduction to Dating Coaching, and my inspiration for going forward with it.

Rikki: All right, we are about to get into our “7 Tips for Finding Lasting Love.” As we were growing up, our mothers didn’t really talk to us about dating—they barely wanted to tell us about the birds and the bees. All you see growing up are your parents, your grandparents, and you think, All right, they are marriedbut you don’t put it together that there’s a process behind all that that you have to go through. So here I am, newly divorced, not necessarily sure that I’m ready to mingle, but I want to get out there.  I love my son to death, but I need some “beyond the Lego” time. So what do I do?

Robyn: So first, I want to preface our 7 Dating Tips with two main messages:

1. Love can find you at any age. This is important to remember because every woman thinks that whatever stage of life she’s in is the worst, as far as dating. Women in their 20s who want to get married complain that men their age just aren’t ready for commitment. Women in their 30s and 40s—on up into their 60s—everyone thinks that they have it the hardest. And while each age has its own challenges—that part is true—in fact, we face different dating challenges in different parts of the country, also—love truly can happen at any age. I see it every day, with my own clients. Never give up. There are quality men and women in every age group.

2. How you date and relate to men when you are single can lay the foundation for a healthy marriage later on. When you use ‘The Rules’ to create healthy dynamics in dating, that will carry through to marriage. So that’s a reason to care about using a dating strategy and being careful when you datebecause the results are long-term.

TIP #1: Finding your mate may take a lot of work and effort.

Robyn: Don’t assume you’ll just magically bump into Mr. Right in the normal course of your life. This is an idea we see in popular movies and music, that involves meeting by chance. You, Rikki, just stood in line at Starbucks, getting your latte; in a movie, you would have spilled that latte on a cute guy behind you, struck up a conversation, and the next thing you know you’d be married. Meeting effortlessly is a myth or false expectation that’s holding a lot of women back. We think we can just go about our ordinary life, our ordinary routine and business, and still meet our mate. I understand—people work very, very hard now. We work much harder today than men and women worked 20 years ago. We have very little leisure time. People don’t feel like they have time to do all the singles events and matchmaking parties. But the fact is that if you haven’t run into Mr. Right yet, you probably have to put some effort into meeting him.

Meetup.com, depending on where you live, has free singles events. Online dating sites like Match.com hold singles events. Speed-dating is a great avenue. In fact, for some women, in certain age categories, in-person events are actually going to work better than online dating. In online dating, men really look at your age and screen out a lot of women based on age; whereas, if they met you in real life, they would find you attractive.

My point is: Don’t plan around winning the lottery. Don’t plan on meeting that perfect guy in the normal course of your life. That’s probably not realistic.

[Rikki speaks with Caller #1.]

TIP #2: Don’t believe articles that say “There are no more dating rules” or “Everything is different now.”

Robyn: This is a popular theme. Everyone loves to think of themselves as a rebel. It just doesn’t sound cool to say that you’re a rule follower. But it’s terrible advice to say “there are no rules.” Or to suggest that now that people are meeting on Tinder or Facebook or whatever that “everything’s different now”—as if, suddenly, everything we know about men and women is completely different.

For example, I’ll have women in their 20s say, “All that Gentleman’s Rules stuff, like what you read in The Rules about how men need to ask for dates 3 days in advance, and pick women up for dates, and pay for dates—that only works for older women because guys my age don’t do that. “ Or I’ll have older women say, “Well, men used to do that stuff but they don’t do that anymore.” And I have to say, one way you can prove to yourself that men do know the rules is to watch them at work. Because whether you work in a school, an office, a military base, a hospital—it doesn’t matter where you are—men know how to show respect. And they know how to show lack of respect. They know how to undermine, and they know how to promote. They invented the rules! They know all this stuff. They do it at work every day.

Think men don’t know The Rules? Watch them at work and you’ll see that they invented the rules!

So when a man meets a woman who he feels he has to impress, he will assume that he has to play by the rules—he’ll be on his best behavior—because he assumes if he doesn’t she won’t give him the time of day. As women, what we can do to mess that up is to say, Oh, you don’t have to pay for dinner, I’ll pay. Or you don’t have to go out of your way for me, you don’t have to try very hard—you had me at hello. That’s just not a healthy dynamic. You’re giving up the opportunity for a man to show you respect—why would you do that? When a man treats you with respect—like a lady—he is opening the door to romance. If you refuse that treatment, and wave it aside, you may be closing the door to romance.  So pay attention to the signals you may be sending, because I guarantee he is reading those cues very carefully, if he’s interested. He knows The Rules.

When a man treats you with respect—like a lady—he is opening the door to romance. If you refuse that treatment, and wave it aside, you may be closing the door to romance. 

TIP #3: Don’t over-estimate your capacity for pain.

 Robyn: “I’m a big girl; I can handle it; I knew what I was getting into; I knew he was bad news.” How many times have we heard a friend say something like this? Sometimes we have a false idea that pain and misery are a necessary part of romance, and that if you aren’t willing to risk some pain you’ll be alone forever. I don’t care if you like country music or if you like rap—these ideas are everywhere in popular culture. Actually, over time, if you keep putting yourself in situations that erode your dignity, then 2 things will happen:

1. You will start to believe that that’s the best you can do and that somehow it's what you deserve.

2. You will train yourself to expect poor treatment.

So, instead, remember that this is not weight trainingyou have nothing to gain from pain. Avoiding pain doesn’t make you weak or less fierce or whatever, it just means you are healthy. Poor choices, women making poor choices—that theme makes for a great novel, but don’t let that thinking rule your life.

[Rikki speaks with Caller #2.]

Female Friends

Rikki: We get such conflicting advice from our friends and from all directions. And what I’m hearing from our callers is that self-love is the key to everything. As women, we are so hard on ourselves.

Robyn: And we’re hard on each other, too. Sometimes those very friends can hold us back a little from romance. Because they have an image in their head of how we should be. Or we can be a little bit possessive of friends, and when we see that they are having success with dating, we aren’t really comfortable with that. Especially if you have a group of single friends and you support each other. Sometimes we have to break away from the pack to have success with dating.

Also, sometimes it helps to bring new female friends into our lives. I always say that if you go to a singles event and there aren’t many men, and a whole roomful of women, then make sure you meet all the women. Because women have brothers, women have co-workers, women can introduce you to other men who you might not otherwise have met. So bringing fresh, new female friends into your life can be very beneficial, too.

Rikki: That’s a good point—bringing new friends into your life, even if just for a season, is important. For that season that they’re there, they truly can make a difference.

TIP #4: Avoid Fantasy Relationships

Robyn: Fantasy relationships can be a common trap at work. For men, liking you and feeling fond of you doesn’t necessarily lead to love. For women, there can be this slow building up to love. Hollywood loves to tell us this story in various movies, because we, as women, eat it up. But for men, typically, attraction has to be there from the beginning. I’m oversimplifying to make an important point, because many women will hang out, being friends with a man, waiting for him to wake up and realize that she’s The One. We see this story played out in movies and novels all the time. This is an unrealistic scenario. For men there has to be a spark from the very beginning. Women waste a lot of time on male friends, waiting for them to realize their love for us, when it’s just not there. Those are wasted months and years. He can like, he can admire and respect you—those are all wonderful feelings—but if there’s not already a romantic spark on his side, then you have to face reality and move on.

TIP #5: We often make the mistake of giving men what we want in a relationship, instead of giving them what they want.

Robyn: This is a theme you’ll hear Steve Harvey touch on a lot, in books like Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. The way I think of it is this:

Women are happiest and most relaxed in a romantic relationship when…
We are secure. We have the warm and cozy feeling that comes from being reassured that a man loves us. He tells us. He’s around and available, we know where he is. He is an open book. So we mistakenly believe that because that’s what we like, we should give that warm, cozy togetherness to him.

Men are happiest and most relaxed in a romantic relationship when…
They feel a strong sense of personal freedom. He’s not going to be your “project,” where you’re going to come in and take over his life and tell him what to do and rearrange his furniture. Emotionally healthy men enjoy relationships when they’re with a woman who gives them plenty of space and who appreciates them just as they are. When you let men know that you have a life, that you have good boundaries, you’re occupied with other interests, and that you’re not looking to him for constant reassurance, he can really start to relax. You’re like a breath of fresh air, compared with 99% of the other women he has dated. And when a man starts to relax and let down his guard, he can truly connect with you in an emotional way. He says, "Life with this woman gives me a sense of freedom," and he wants to be with you. 

Misunderstanding leads to Over-giving
The problem comes in when, as women, we are so overjoyed to find a man we like that we feel the way to “get” him is to start working like crazy—we think we're supposed to do something to bind that man to us.  Otherwise we think he might leave and move on to the next woman. And we immediately start giving him stuff. So cooking, showing off our beautiful body, having sex early on, lending him money, letting him move in, helping him with his careerthose are just some of the things women mistakenly think will bind a man to us. Subconsciously what you’re doing is trying to create a sense of obligation to bind him to you. We don’t see it that way—we see it as we’re sharing, we’re giving, we’re being nice. But men see right past the “giving” part to the obligation part. Giving so much up front because you want a lot in return. Rather than seeing this as generous, he says, Wow, I’ll never be able to make this woman happy because she expects so much in return. Or, She’s trying to chain me up, and the next thing you know, she’ll be talking marriage. For them, it feels like they can’t even breathe, because we’re so over-giving.  

So then this is how we have the situation of a woman complaining to her girlfriends, saying Oh, I gave him everything, I gave him my heart, I gave him my body—I loved him too much. And the girlfriends will all say, Oh yes, what a terrible guy that was, and he didn’t appreciate you and how ungrateful. But actually, those women are misunderstanding the dynamics. And from the man’s perspective, he didn’t want all that. He wasn’t even sure how he felt yet. He just wanted some space and some time to get to know you.

Also: men with abusive tendencies are the ones who expect you to wrap your life around his, and make his priorities front and center, to the exclusion of your needs. By maintaining your own space, your own interests, you will weed out men who want to rule your life, and attract those who want to be healthy, supportive partners.

Rikki: It’s so hard, because we’re so happy we’re in this relationship, and we’re supposed to be these nurturing creatures—give, give, give. A lot of times it’s tiring, because you don’t feel like giving all the time. And then you feel guilty about feeling that way. He just needs and needs. And then you don’t like him so much anymore, because he’s so needy, but he really isn’t all that needy in the first place. You were just so busy giving, giving, giving.

Robyn: Right. And he will take from you forever. It’s different with female friends. At a certain point, your female friend is going to say, Oh, Rikki has just gone all out for me—I can’t accept any more. But guys don’t think like that. They think, Well, she likes to give me all this—she likes to cook me gourmet meals and pick up my kids from daycare and drop the rent check off—so I’ll let her keep doing that.

[Rikki reads Facebook messages from listeners.]

Rikki: Well, we have some gentlemen who are listening and they are actually agreeing, and saying that is so very true, and that men are simple. One of our listeners—a gentleman who has great shows here on BlogTalk Radio—he’s saying it’s so true about men: we’re simple creatures, we just want to be loved and it’s basic, there’s not a whole bunch of extraordinary things that we like. We like simple things. But if you go ahead and do all this extra stuff, of course we’re not going to say no.

TIP #6: Pay attention to a man's actions, not his words.

Robyn: This is simple advice that your grandmother might have given you, but it is still very important and true. We listen to all the nice things that guys say to us, but we should really pay attention to how they act. There are many men out there who truly believe sweet words at the time they are saying them, but then they move on to the next woman, or their feelings change, and suddenly those words don’t mean anything anymore.  Sometimes we read so much into what men say. A man comes up to us and says, I think you’re beautiful. We think that means that he’s in love with us, or we’re The One for him, when all he means is…he thinks we’re beautiful.

TIP #7: Refresh your life.

Robyn: Consider whether your entire life needs a refresh. When I’m talking to women about their dating life, I may hear that actually dating is just one piece of a life that’s needs a major overhaul. You may be stagnating in a job that’s no longer fulfilling. You may be living in a community that worked for you when you were younger—this is where all your friends and family are—but maybe now it’s actually holding you back. When I lived in Manhattan, I lived in three different neighborhoods. Sometimes just moving 15 minutes can really open up your world and change who you know, and the whole pattern of your life. Of course, if moving would cause a financial burden, that’s not a good idea, but you could instead look at taking classes online if you want to transition to a different career. There are so many things you can do to refresh your life, in general. Consider refreshing your appearance, especially if you’ve been out of the dating scene for a while. 

People who have a swirl of energy around them—because things are happening for them—are very attractive.

Rikki: It’s almost like going to the spa. When you have a spa day, you come out of it refreshed and you feel like you can conquer the world. You feel like a new person, you’re floating on air. You do see things a little bit differently.

Robyn: Yes. If you find yourself in a rut in your dating life, it’s often the case that there are other pieces of your life that you need to refresh, to help with that.

Rikki: These 7 tips that you’ve given us are very simple, and yet they are so hard to do.

Robyn: Yes. And coming full circle, back to where we started, this is where we all need support in making changes. If you are a woman who is looking for help in dating for lasting love, please subscribe to my newsletter—it's completely free. I answer all questions personally, and when you submit questions it helps me know what kinds of topics my readers are interested in. One month it might be online dating, another it might be self esteem issues. 

And if you need more specific help, with your particular situation—you may be with a man but you're not sure if he'll propose or if he truly loves you or if he's The One—or you need help because you're not getting many dates or you're getting over a breakup, divorce, or you're a single mom—definitely consider booking a private consultation. You want to get married, but you're not sure how to get there—that's when a private consultation is really helpful. I work with women all over the country by phone, Skype, and email. Clients write to me all the time to share their successes.  

Life coaching can come from different avenues.  Look around at the elders in your community, and how they conduct their lives. Look for examples of strong marriages. Everyone in your life can be a coach. I have three daughters—I learn things from them every day about love and relationships, and the differences between men and women. Of course I learn from my husband every day, too.

Rikki: Robyn, thank you so much for being a wonderful guest on this Love Day. Make sure you check out my Facebook page for additional information. Follow me on Twitter @RrikkiJones. Make sure you love yourself. Love someone else. I’ll see everyone next Saturday morning, 10:30am EST on BlogTalk Radio

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. If you're curious about The Rules, find out how to rock The Rules your own way and why reading The Rules book just might change your life. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.  

2 SIMPLE STEPS TO YOUR BEST ONLINE DATING PROFILE

sexy committed couple

Don’t let background noise distract him from a good thing You!

It is common for women to feel frustrated and disappointed with the quality of replies they get on online dating sites. Either they aren’t receiving many responses at all, or the ones they do receive are along the lines of “hey there” without any thought or effort—the dating equivalent of spam. Even worse, you can start to feel that you are attracting only the toads lurking around the edges, while the cute, normal guys seem to pass right by.

So what can a single girl do? Isn’t online dating like a random carnival game? —if Lady Luck isn’t on your side, are you destined to play a losing hand?

Not exactly. While it is true that online dating is partly a numbers game, there are many steps you can take to stack the deck in your favor. I just finished my 200th online dating profile makeover and wanted to celebrate by sharing my top profile tips with you—tips that worked for me when I was single, and that work now for my private clients. (Learn how to set up the best possible first date in this article, How To Have An Awesome First Date With An Online Match.)

If you put aside all the personality quizzes, questionnaires, and fancy-sounding algorithms, the successful dating profile delivers on old-fashioned advertising goals— the same goals used to sell everything from shoes to potato chips:

  • Create desire—a need to buy.
  • Create a sense of urgency—the need to buy it now.

Now, let me be clear: we are not talking about a trip to Tiffany at this point. But a man could look at your profile and think "She's sexy" and "I've got to meet her"— that is the desire and need to buy trigger that I’m talking about. As far as the urgency part, it usually follows rather naturally if yours is the look he's after. So the only elements you need to pay close attention to in your profile are your handle (the “name” you’re going by on the dating site) and your photos. That's it. Everything else in your profile is there to support your goals of creating desire and a sense of urgency. Keep your descriptive text brief and action-oriented: things you like to do and places you like to go. 

Default Banner

If anything in your profile could get in the way of your ad objectives, you must eliminate it. This is an ad—not your life story. The sooner you meet in real life, the sooner you will each know if yours is truly a match. No computerized mixologist can guarantee a compatible level of chemistry and attraction, or a shared sense of humor. A heartfelt essay on your hopes, dreams, and aspirations may be worth writing—and preserving in your journal—but it is out of place on a dating site and cannot truly bring him closer to the "real you."

So how will these advertising principles guide your own profile makeover?

1. Create a physically descriptive handle for yourself —one that says “pretty,” is easy to remember, and that matches your personal style and look. Our example will be a woman named Kimberly, 33 years old, with brown hair and dark eyes, who spends weekends playing in a municipal volley ball league.  Possible handles for her could be SportyBrunette_33, PetiteBrunette_1000, VolleyBallGirl_BrownEyes, or DarkNLovely_2014. What Kimberly would not want to do is use a version of her name, which can be too identifying or just awkward; “Kimber4580” is the type of handle that is common when we let a computer call the shots. Pay attention to the trailing number, which is often needed to make your name unique. Never use your birth year, as that can leave you vulnerable to ID theft or fraud. Your handle is not the place to reference your favorite movie, book, or motivational saying; focus on the goals, and you’ll have plenty to talk about when you meet.

ICE.com

A note on eHarmony: I advise clients to create a handle, regardless of the fact that the site encourages the use of real first names. (A middle name or nickname can work well; or just pick a name that begins with the same initial.) Men live in the same world we do, and they truly understand that using a real name on a public dating site is not the smartest move. 

2. Post the best photos of yourself that you possibly can. You will need 2 photographs at minimum—a smiling headshot and a ¾ or full body shot. I probably don’t need to tell you that the profile pic is everything, but sometimes we all need a little push to get to the Absolute Best Photograph Ever, which is what you should aim for. Many women invest in a photo shoot (one where the photographer comes to your home is best, so you will be relaxed and natural), but it is perfectly fine to use casual shots that friends or family have snapped. Make sure you crop out all other people in the photos before you upload them, as well as surroundings that might be too identifying or just odd.

Many women aren’t sure "how sexy" to look in their profile pics. For guidance, just remember the context. Men are viewing your photos on a dating site; they know that you are available, seeking a man, and that ultimately you probably enjoy getting physical with guys (or you wouldn’t be looking for one!). Therefore, to mention sex in your ad, pose in lingerie or skimpy bikinis, or otherwise flaunt an over-the-top sensuality comes across as…well, a little needy and perhaps even desperate. (Instagram "models" have different goals from yours.) Desperation is bait for a certain type of guy, but he’s probably not your idea of a great catch. So do show off your assets, but skip the boudoir shots.

When you work your dating profile like an ad—and don’t expect it to communicate every little nuance of your personality—you are much more likely to enjoy quality results: more real-life dates with men who find you attractive and want to be there with you. Streamline your descriptive text—sticking to career, hobbies, activities, and favorite places—so that nothing gets in the way of your objectives. Your next match will view your profile and think, “I better call her before someone else does.” And then the real fun begins. 

Robyn Wahlgast is a Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new content. 

HOW TO HAVE AN AWESOME FIRST DATE WITH AN ONLINE GUY

16 Best Online Dating Rules for Women

Most single women have experienced at least one awful first date. Here’s how to stop the madness—and start looking forward to meeting your next online match.

Most single women have experienced at least one awful first date. Here’s how to stop the madness—and start looking forward to meeting your next online match.

Today I’m going to show you how to set up the best possible Date Zero (DZ), the very first face-to-face date with a man you’ve met online or through a dating app. While you can’t control for chemistry or a soulmate-level connection, there are effective ways to screen out duds, scammers, and guys who just aren't that into you. Once those worries are out of the way, you can actually relax and have fun.

These rules apply to any form of blind date, including those arranged by matchmakers or friends and family. (Read my general online dating tips as well as 2 Simple Steps To Your Best Online Dating Profile for help with creating your profile and getting online.)

Setting yourself up for success is very important. When you have bad DZs, you want to give up on dating entirely; your self-esteem takes a hit and you start to feel that you will never meet the right guy. You may even avoid singles events and other real-life opportunities to meet men because you feel so vulnerable and unsure of yourself. Worse, you may get caught up in a toxic relationship with a man who could have been filtered out from the start. This is the kind of negative spiral my guidelines are designed to protect you against.

FROM E.L.F.

As some of you know, I met my own husband online and have coached many women to the altar through online dating alone. While the starting point for my advice is The Rules book series by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, I also layer in my own strategies—the tips I share with private clients and that I followed, personally, to date for marriage. Any single woman can meet great guys online, but you do have to be disciplined, screen carefully, and always choose quality over quantity. You are worth it!

IGXO Cosmetics

Rule 1: Lower your expectations (but not your standards). Even good guys can let their manners slip with women they are socially unconnected to. When your sister-in-law sets you up with her single co-worker, that dude is on notice to treat you like gold; otherwise, word will get out and there will be negative consequences for his poor form. Not so with your online suitor. To him, you are some random dot on the graph of life. He may start out hot and heavy, only to disappear without a trace. So, please lower your expectations for any new guy. Never get overly excited about a date or invest your emotions in a man who hasn’t yet demonstrated, over multiple dates, that he’s in this for the long haul. A man can poof! at any point in the process. Don’t take it personally and do move on.

Rule 2: Never contact men first. Whether you’re on Tinder, Match, or any other app or site, always let men pick you out from the crowd and never contact a suggested match first—not even a simple emoticon. I cover this topic in my online dating tips for women. Although it’s not what the dating sites want you to do, following this rule will spare you the type of date I describe in Rule #14, where the man has mentally checked out before his first beer.

Rule 3: Limit the Date Zero to 1 hour. I call the DZ a “sandwich” date because you will sandwich it in between other activities, such as working out or meeting friends for dinner. This has several benefits, not the least of which is that a man is more likely to ask you out again, for a proper date, if you limit the time spent in this initial meeting. The purpose of this date is simply to see if there is a mutually agreed-upon level of attraction. That’s it. A good venue could be cocktails, coffee, or a juice bar—any public space. Dinner, bowling, movies, hiking, and other time-intensive activities are not DZ venues. Neither is anything overtly sexy or intimate, such as watching videos at his apartment. (Seriously?) Meeting at a strip club is never appropriate, unless you work there and he is picking you up for the date.

Rule 4: Go by a nickname or middle name for the first 3 dates if it makes you feel safer. A man does not need your real, full name until you have gone out several times and you are sure that he is legit. If you’ve been hesitant to get online due to privacy concerns, following this rule will boost your confidence and allow you to engage with men in a more relaxed way—which will make them even more keen for your company. Never use your work phone number, work email, or any other identifying contact information in your online profile. If he presses you for your full name before the third date and you trust him, go ahead and share it. But it is also o.k. to flirt and sweetly answer “Hmm…I’m not sure….” If you have fun with it, he will too.

FROM DR. BRANDT

Rule 5: After he suggests meeting, have him call you to finalize the date details. On the surface, this call is about logistics and avoiding endless texts back and forth, but it is also a safety check. You can tell a lot about someone through a brief conversation—no longer than the few minutes it takes to arrange your meeting place and time. Does he sound overly nervous? Does he sound weird? Always trust your instincts and quickly cancel the date if anything doesn’t seem right. Remember, texting is silent: If a man resists calling you it can be a sign that he has a girlfriend or is possibly even married. Most women are fine with messaging or email contact only, so you may need to say—after he suggests meeting—"Sounds great, could we figure it out on the phone? 000-000-0000." If a man truly wants to meet you (not just window-shopping) he will appreciate being able to plan the where and when in one phone call. If he never calls, you'll know he wasn't really in the running in the first place.

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS  #THISISMYOFFICE

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS #THISISMYOFFICE

Rule 6: He can’t be certain you’re worth chasing until he meets you in real life. Men don’t fall in love with your accomplishments and favorite movie list—they fall in love with your essence. The way you talk and move and smile are all part of your unique charm and allure, and can’t be captured in a photo. Just as some men post misleading profile pictures—or lack charisma in real life—he is understandably wary that you may not be what you seem. Therefore, while I advise making him work for your attention during actual courtship, don’t be too hard to get before the first date. Once he meets you in real life, the true chase begins.  

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

Rule 7: Forgive his dorky sense of humor. Some men are eager to impress, but not necessarily skilled at putting women at ease. They may think they are flirting with you by teasing and making jokey comments, and offend instead. Before the date it is sometimes hard to tell if your sense of humor will be compatible with his; and whether he is socially impaired or just nervous. Lots of nice guys lose out at this stage, simply because they hang out with other men all day at work and are a little awkward around girls. While we want to screen out the truly weird or disrespectful, take a second look at men who seem sincere and demonstrate follow-through, but aren’t necessarily suave. You may have discovered a diamond in the rough who will shine when you meet in real life.   

Rule 8: Skip men with overtly sexual or “seduction” profiles. The best part about the PUA (pick-up artist) crowd is that they tend to be very open about their interests. If a man sends you suggestive comments or his handle contains words like “player,” just ignore him. Let other women take that bait. 

FROM BCBG

Rule 9: Ignore men with lazy opening lines. If all he can muster up is “hi” “ur hot” or ;-) just ignore him. Wait to receive a message that demonstrates a little more effort and interest in your profile, specifically.

Rule 10: Politely asserting yourself doesn’t make you high maintenance. It is neither bossy nor impolite to state your preferences. If a guy is excited about meeting you he will want to please and impress you. While we would typically let a man lead the planning of a date, a gentleman will certainly ask for your opinions. It is o.k. to tell him that you prefer to meet near your gym. Or that you don’t like sushi. And you can only meet on Tuesday. Really, don’t be shy about your needs and preferences. If he has already asked you out, is in planning mode, and is inviting you to provide feedback—give it to him. If he says you are too high maintenance or in any way tries to suppress your point of view, say “No, thank you” and skip the date. It was not going to go well anyway.

e.l.f. cosmetics

Rule 11: Men appreciate the simple “No.” Practice a breezy “no thanks” with men. There is never a need to embellish. Providing the full explanation and details as to why you don’t care to drink alcohol on the DZ is unnecessary and none of his business. Likewise, he doesn’t need a list of your allergies and food restrictions; or to hear all about your terrible experiences at a local restaurant and why you’ll never dine there again. Respond with “No, thank you” or “it’s just not my thing” where appropriate. Then follow with silence. Men hear you best when you don’t go on and on. If he’s a gentleman, he’ll respect your wishes, and if he likes you he will take pleasure in accommodating your preferences.   

Rule 12: Keep the conversation light. There is no benefit to getting emotionally naked on the date. Save your innermost thoughts and feelings for those who’ve earned your trust. Many women over-share on the first date in an attempt to draw men closer, when instead it telegraphs that you have weak boundaries and are desperate for connection. You will end up driving away normal, healthy guys, and attracting men who are opportunistic or exploitative. Neither do you need to research conversational topics or memorize cute jokes. Relax, trust that simply being with you is enough, and let him lead the conversation.

Rule 13: He has to pay for the date. If you start splitting the check now, you will set up a dynamic in which you will always have to help him date you. Besides, when a man likes you, it is his pleasure to be generous and provide you with things. If it makes you feel better, consider that he will select a date venue that is within his budget; meeting at a coffee or juice bar is perfectly acceptable and inexpensive.

Rule 14: Pay attention to signs of disinterest and be quick to hit the eject button. Acknowledge that sometimes men simply aren’t attracted to you when they meet you in real life. Salvage the rest of your evening and end the date quickly if he doesn’t seem interested. How can you tell? He may be flat or unengaged in conversation, check his phone constantly, drink heavily, ogle other women in the bar, flirt with the waitress, or otherwise passive-aggressively announce: I’m bored. When a fish is wriggling like this on the hook, it’s best to set it free. Excuse yourself (it doesn’t matter what you say) and head for the exit before you waste another precious minute. Whatever you do, don’t work to engage him in conversation or try to focus his attention back on you. You are not his unpaid escort. If you have to work for eye contact, he is not into you or he’s playing some kind of power game; the longer you sit there trying to revive this dead fish, the worse you will feel about yourself.

Beauty Brands.  Free Samples With Purchase.

Here’s a tip for next time: Men who aren’t really available or not that attracted to you often have difficulty setting up the DZ in the first place. If he arranges a date but then cancels on you, don’t immediately give him a second chance to reschedule; pass up his first offer and see if he persists. Also, if he expects you to do all the planning or has no suggestions or is otherwise lukewarm prior to the date, that can be a red flag. If he drags his feet, you should immediately become less interested in meeting him. Even if he was to be your only date in months, you are better off staying home or going to the gym than subjecting yourself to the glazed look and tepid conversation of man who would rather be elsewhere.

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

Rule 15: You can say yes to long-distance suitors. If you live in a rural area where there aren’t a lot of dating opportunities nearby, I feel your pain. Nonetheless, you are still going to have to follow these rules if you want to meet a quality man. You aren’t going to contact men first. And you cannot travel to his town for the date—he must come to you. Understandably, many women in tight-knit communities don’t want to be seen with an online date in their local coffee bar, where everyone knows your business. If you prefer, it’s o.k. to have him meet you one town over, if that means driving 15 minutes or less, and it’s not too inconvenient for you. And, yes, the first date should only last an hour, even if he has to drive 3 hours each way to see you.

One of my recently married clients can tell you that men really are willing to drive hours for the right girl. Her now-husband drove 2 hours each way to meet her for a 1-hour DZ in a little town in Western Kansas. After exactly 57 minutes of chit-chat, my client left him and went to her previously arranged appointment. Was he upset that he’d driven 2 hours to meet her for a single coffee in a diner? No. He spent a few hours exploring the unfamiliar town, identified the one “fancy” restaurant, ate dinner there alone, and filed it away in his memory; 10 months later he brought her to that same restaurant for a surprise proposal.

Final Rule: When in doubt, always skip the date. Listen to your uh-oh voice and pass on any suggestion that doesn’t feel right. Remember, a man is on his best behavior at the very beginning of a relationship. He should be going all out to impress you. If he’s not, take the hint and move on. 

xo
Robyn

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new blog posts and advice. Learn how to rock The Rules your own way for lasting love and commitment.