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

WHAT MEN CRAVE: A LITTLE "SUGAR" (NO, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT SEX)

The special ingredient your guy needs in order to commit to you.

It’s spring, and love is in the air. More specifically, the song Sugar by Maroon 5, is in the airwaves, playing almost continuously.

sugar by maroon 5

For single women struggling to understand What Men Want, the lyrics to this song provide a crystal-clear answer:

I'm hurting, baby, I'm broken down
I need your loving, loving
I need it now
When I'm without you
I'm something weak
You got me begging, begging
I'm on my knees

I don't wanna be needing your love
I just wanna be deep in your love
And it's killing me when you're away, ooh, baby,
'Cause I really don't care where you are
I just wanna be there where you are
And I gotta get one little taste

Sure, the singer's “need” is partly about sex—that’s what most of us hear in these lyrics. But if you think that’s all there is to it, you may want to take a fresh look at how men experience love and romanceMen have a deep longing to be accepted and respected—that's the real source of sweetness in the song. 

Here’s the back story: Maroon 5 lead singer, Adam Levine, began dating Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo in 2012. The relationship lasted about a year, they broke up, and he then began dating another beautiful 20-something Victoria’s Secret model, Nina Agdal.  However, Levine continued to stay in touch with Prinsloo. According to US Weekly, "After Adam broke up with Behati, he couldn't stop thinking about her....He realized he really loved her and wanted to be with her….He knew he wanted to propose."

From  US Weekly : Adam Levine told ex-girlfriend Nina Agdal (right) about his engagement to Behati Prinsloo (left) via text message.          Credit: Jim Spellman/WireImage.com; George Pimentel/WireImage.com; Gustavo Caballero/Getty

From US Weekly: Adam Levine told ex-girlfriend Nina Agdal (right) about his engagement to Behati Prinsloo (left) via text message. Credit: Jim Spellman/WireImage.com; George Pimentel/WireImage.com; Gustavo Caballero/Getty

This is a classic example of a man needing a little space and distance to connect with his deeper feelings. (And a reminder that if the man you are dating is cozying up to his ex, you should break up with him immediately and move on—because he obviously hasn’t.)

So what was so special about Behati Prinsloo that made one of the world's most eligible bachelors, Adam Levine, so sure he wanted to marry her? (Their wedding took place in 2014, about two years after they first began dating.)

For one thing, Prinsloo is a Rules Girl. She confidently and serenely allowed Levine to lead her into deeper commitment when he was ready.

But also, it is clear that she gives Levine that "sugar" that men need so desperately, in order to bond with and commit to a woman.

So, how can you satisfy this need in your man, and make him truly addicted to your love and companionship?

5 Tips For Making Him Crave Commitment With You

5. Desire him. “Sex” is what you were thinking at the beginning of this post, and of course it belongs on our list. Sure, men love it when we enjoy heart-pounding, enthusiastic lovemaking. But a big part of that is showing that you really are turned on by him and appreciate him as a Man. That's not something that begins and ends in the bedroom. When you connect strongly with your own femininity you help him find the joy in his masculinity; he feels accepted as he is.   

4. Trust him. One of the greatest gifts we give a man is our vulnerability—that wide-eyed acceptance that lets him know you see him as a good guy. If you’re single, assume your date will be a gentleman and that he knows how to treat you right. Your attitude of positive expectations will go further than actually telling him what to do. If you’re in a relationship, give him his freedom to do “guy stuff” or just go off and do things without you. (If you truly don’t trust him because he repeatedly disappoints you, he’s not your Mr. Right. Break up and move on.)

3. Appreciate him—for all that he does, for who he is, and for the mission he has chosen to embrace. Did I surprise you with the “mission” part? All men are on some kind of quest, even if they don’t broadcast it. It may or may not have to do with his job. It may be centered around a hobby or interest that you, at first glance, think is unimportant. If you don’t already know, find out what your man’s mission is and make sure you openly appreciate his commitment to it.  

2. Make him feel like a winner. Sometimes the very men who rack up win after win at work end up feeling like losers at home or in their dating lives. You want him to associate you with a feeling of winning—something all men, regardless of personality type, really do crave—if you want the relationship to progress. Smile and say thank you in a genuine way when he tries to please you. (And when a man loves you, his biggest win comes from pleasing you.)

1. Respect him. Respect is number one because it is central to a man’s self-esteem and well-being. And it’s something you have to show, through your actions, for him to view as sincere. For example, loyalty is an important component of respect; that means never belittling or mocking his views, preferences, abilities, or interests—not in private and certainly not in public. You are a team, and team members have each others’ backs. You don’t have to agree with everything he says—that wouldn’t be genuine or realistic—but agree to disagree in a respectful manner. Finally, understand that for a man, how you dress and present yourself is a sign of how much you respect him. Be the woman he loves showing off and is proud to be seen with.

Remember, sugar doesn’t stop once you cross the altar together. In fact, married men have an even deeper need for a daily dose. Life is filled with challenges and he needs some sweetness from you to help him through. Trust me: he will repay you in countless ways if you make the effort to give it to him.

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

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.  

FROM A BROKEN ENGAGEMENT TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER

#NeverGiveUp

Years ago, shortly after I turned 30, I became engaged on Valentine’s Day—to a man I ended up not marrying. There was a fancy diamond ring involved, and to be honest, I should have said no the minute my boyfriend proposed.

(A tiny voice in my head did say no.)

But I took a deep breath and answered yes for a variety of dumb reasons, including the fact that we had been dating for a year and a half, and marriage just seemed to be the train that we were on. His parents adored me, and we spent a lot of time with them as well as with his friends. We had attended several weddings together. How disappointing for everyone, if there was no happy ending for the two of us.

Getting engaged: It's not about the bling.

So there I was on Valentine’s Day, at Sign of the Dove, modeling a truly stunning ring. If you’ve had the experience of becoming engaged, you know that it can quickly intoxicate you—sometimes for the wrong reasons.

Every morning on the F train at least two or three people would glance at my left hand, smile, and congratulate me. I felt like I had passed beyond one of life’s many velvet ropes, into a VIP club. I did not want to give up my membership.

Becoming engaged can quickly intoxicate you. Sometimes for the wrong reasons.

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

You probably noticed that in my intro I said only that his parents and friends liked me. So there’s your first red flag, because I can't say that my friends and family adored him. When I called my mom to tell her that my boyfriend and I were engaged, she said “Oh?” and was silent. Not the typical mom reaction. (She didn’t even tell my dad for weeks, because she knew he would not approve.)

Logo
Zales

My friends were skeptical about my fiancé, but more tolerant than my parents; I think they just hoped for the best. And they loved that ring. The ring was what everyone rallied around: how beautiful, how big, how perfect the setting. Because of the ring, we could avoid talking about real things, like did I truly love my fiancé, and wasn’t he kind of a jerk. Blinded by bling—we all were, for sure.

FROM ZALES

In the following 6 months, though, everything fell apart. Why? Because I slowly had to admit to myself that I didn’t really like my fiancé, and would have felt trapped in a marriage with him. He was a lot older than I was, successful, and I had been a little in awe of him. But I started to see things more clearly: he treated me like a possession—an extension of himselfnot like a complete human being. He expected me to play a certain part, and if I didn’t he got angry.

FROM DR. BRANDT

As our fighting increased he, too, started to pull back. The wedding date kept moving further out. I was having difficulty concentrating at work, and felt physically ill much of the time. After months of pain and misery, I broke up with him—something I could have and should have done much earlier.

WAS IT A ‘RULES’ RELATIONSHIP?

Clients who know my story often ask, "But was this a Rules relationship?" And I have to say that even though my boyfriend pursued me, did all the work, and ultimately asked me to marry him, it definitely was not. The Rules are about seeing and admitting the truth of a situation—even when it is unpleasant and uncomfortable to do so. If you’d rather remain in a state of denial (as I did) that is not a Rules relationship, even if a wedding is on the horizon. Just getting married, "getting the ring," is never the point. 

Also, The Rules tell us not to let romantic relationships take over our lives or keep us from doing the things we love. But my engagement had a toxic effect on nearly all of my other relationships—including my parents and my closest friends. If I had continued on a path of denial, I would have become more isolated, and my life even more focused around this one man.  By contrast, healthy love enhances and opens up your world. Life gets bigger when you’re with the right person.  

Healthy relationships open up your world. Life gets bigger when you’re with the right person.  

Most importantly, The Rules show us how to create a healthy dynamic in dating that will then carry over into marriage. It's a foundation of mutual respect—something I didn't have with my ex. In a healthy relationship, you feel that you are enough, just as you are; your partner isn't going to reject you just because you've gained a little weight, lost your job, or become ill. When life gets tough, you know you have each others' backs. That is a Rules marriage.

FROM BCBG

If a man's love is conditional, and you feel it could be taken away at any moment that you "disappoint" him or are less than perfect, stop dating him. That is not the foundation for a healthy marriage.

My broken engagement led me to study something called the Diamond Life — an idea that can be found in many different cultures and religions. Living the Diamond Life means that you commit to balance in Mind, Body, Heart, and Spirit — the 4 points of a sparkling gem.

Tommy Hilfiger

With respect to love and relationships, this means that you can't just "follow your heart," as most Hollywood movies suggest. Even if you are a free spirit, you honor yourself by engaging your mind as well. You love with clarity and balance.  

Easier said than done, right? One reason I recommend that women do The Rules and commit to them, is that Rules behaviors make it easy for you live a balanced, healthy life. Your heart (and body) might tell you to drop everything and spend every moment with your new crush, but The Rules prevent you from doing so. You remain active with your interests and activities, your career, and your friends and family. You wait to have sex until you are sure that yours is a healthy dynamic, and your man has given you clear signs that he loves you. 

When a Rules woman is uncertain about a man's feelings for her, she puts her heart on pause and waits for a clear signal from him. Over time, with daily practice, you can actually train your heart to respond only to men who make you feel safe and sound, and to instinctively reject a hot-and-cold, emotional roller-coaster.

FROM E.L.F.

Over time, you can train your heart to respond only to men who make you feel safe and sound, and to reject a hot-and-cold, emotional roller-coaster. 

The benefits are particularly valuable once you've met your wonderful Mr. Right. By exercising this self-restraint and not losing yourself in love, you will give your man space and become even more precious to him as a result. He knows you had a life before you met him, and he respects you for continuing to maintain other priorities. You are the cool girl he feels lucky to be dating. 

When you love with clarity and balance, you become even more precious to your guy. He truly respects and cherishes you.
Moving on after a broken engagement...  In a healthy relationship, you know you are enough for him, you don’t need to prove anything, and he loves your very essence. 

Moving on after a broken engagement... In a healthy relationship, you know you are enough for him, you don’t need to prove anything, and he loves your very essence. 

Never give up.

It sounds silly now, but I truly thought this broken engagement was my last chance at love and marriage. Over the next 5 years, I went through the driest of dry spells. I met men through online dating, but hardly any were my idea of Mr. Right. I tried a matchmaking group, and singles events. I was doing The Rules, but it just wasn’t my time yet.

I also worked on re-balancing my life. Before I dated my ex, I had regularly attended a Bible study group; I started going again. I decided it was time to reconnect with the people who truly mattered to me. I got busy with activities that were good for my soul, my body, and my mind, and resolved never again to silence my inner voice.

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

Then, at 36, I met my now-husband. And his proposal was truly a gift from the heart. He knew that Scotland is my favorite place on earth. After we’d been dating a year, he surprised me with a mystery trip to Glengorm Castle on the Isle of Mull, where he got down on one knee, in the rain, surrounded by Highland cattle. (He had already told my parents about his planbecause he loved and respected them— and they were fully on board.) The diamond my husband gave me that day, and that I've worn ever since for the last 15 years, is precious. But mostly because it reflects back a beautiful experience and a shared memory that we both treasure. 

Wishing you lots of love,
Robyn

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.  

HOW TO STAY LIGHT AND BREEZY IN ANY SEASON

How A 1972 Hit Song Can Help You Keep Harmony With Your Man

Even as autumn chills the air, and you begin to search for that second glove…or those perfect boots…you can still hang onto a little bit of summer. And, in all honesty, we should try to practice that summery, sunny mindset all year, in all of our relationships.

What do I mean?

If you want to know what a man’s fantasy of commitment and marriage feels like, just listen to the song "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Crofts. (I've linked to the sexiest cover version ever by The Isley Brothers.) 

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day's work
And you're waiting there, not a care in the world...

A sunny attitude doesn't always happen for us naturally. It may take some practice and mindfulness. Take baby steps toward the sunshine!

A sunny attitude doesn't always happen for us naturally. It may take some practice and mindfulness. Take baby steps toward the sunshine!

Now, of course you—the “you” that is the woman in the song—aren't lounging around without a care in the world. That’s pretty much the opposite of your experience right now at work or in your home life. But that simplified version of domestic life, and breezy, carefree imagery is an ideal any of us could crave, especially when life is so complicated, and continually throwing curve-balls. That vision is especially powerful because such a “lite” mindset can be used to positively affect your actions and interactions with your partner. After all, cultivating peace and rapport in your relationships is a day by day commitment. At any moment, one can feel like sinking from the pressures and expectations that exist in any long-term situation. Creating an aura of ease and lightness can seem completely out of reach.

As with vocal harmony, choosing to spread sunshine is a skill you can practice and get better at over time. When you’re practically crackling with stress, you may think it’s your man’s job to somehow take away the pain. Maybe it’s your secret desire that he can read your mind (nope), relieve you of your burden (only you can do that, doll), and give you a hug (yes, that’s reasonable). If your guy appears to be upbeat or oblivious to your mood, it can be infuriating. “If he really loved me,” you think, “he’d pick up on my mood and fix this.” Your instinct may even be to pull him down down down into the Wicked Witch’s vortex of doom, with you. You know it’s childish and selfish, but still you have this impulse. The next thing you know, you’ve picked a fight or dumped your issues and complaints onto a somewhat innocent bystander. Now his mood is soured and the negative chain reaction continues. And if you have kids, their little antennae are likely to transmit and amplify the distress signals.     

So pause and remember summer breeze….  That’s what he hoped he was getting when he fell in love with you. That’s the you of your early dates. And, truth be told, that’s the you that you like best. Like a child on a swing, soaring up toward the sky. She’s still in there, and she’s maybe a truer reflection of your self than the stressed-out version. So what can you do to keep the peace, both within your head and in your home?

1. Refrain from “sharing” all the bad things that happened today. (If you’re already unloading, it’s o.k. to stop mid-sentence. Really, he won’t mind.) Sometimes these types of conversations are best left to your friends or other family members—if, after sleeping on it, you still feel like venting.

2. Refresh and reset. Can you try to muster up one good thing that happened during your day? Or something you’re looking forward to in the near future? When all else fails, spend 7 minutes on YouTube watching silly cat videos or that #TBT Sister Sledge video, or anything inspirational to you. When the screen freezes, mentally high-five the millions of other stressed souls who’ve chosen this in lieu of picking a fight with their honey.

3. Make a quick plan to deal with your #1 issue. Tonight is not the time to tackle all 99 of your problems, but you can make a baby step in the right direction. After all, being breezy doesn’t mean being irresponsible. Identify your most pressing issue and come up with one next step that you can take to make things better for yourself. Write it down and place it in a keepsake box or a jar. Close the container and set it aside with intention. You will reopen it in the morning, after a good night's rest.

4. Appreciate him as he is. It sounds so simple, but when you learn to stop "grading" your partner, you will relax and connect with him more completely. Comparing him to other, more perfect specimens of manhood may artificially motivate him at first (when the competitive instinct kicks in), but over time he will simply tune you out. Making comparisons is not an effective means for motivating anyone over the long term, and the habit may drive a wedge between you. Instead, think about one of his recent successes—something you know he values and is proud of—and mention it. 

5. O.k., about that hug. Just ask him for one! You don’t need to overwhelm him with lengthy explanations and details—your snuggle will be that much sweeter as a result.

When I was younger, the wifey, domestic tranquility portrayed in this song seemed to me embarrassingly retro and sexist; I cringed every time it came on the radio. But now that I’m married, I get it. Because in the grown-up world, summer breeze is mostly a dream anyway. It’s a serene state of mind we all long for. So, go on—let him have his fantasy. Try to share a little bit of summer with those you love—including yourself—all year long. 

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. 

HE WON'T PROPOSE... WHAT TO DO?

get him to propose faster

You want to get married, but he's in no rush. Don't let your insecurities ruin a good thing. Follow these 4 tips and you'll be walking down the aisle in no time. 

If you are a woman who is happily involved in an exclusive relationship, your thoughts have probably turned to marriage. This is understandable: for many people, the act of getting married is the ultimate expression of a couple’s love for one another.

The phase just before engagement can be one of the trickiest for a couple to navigate, however. If you have been dating for a year or more, you may feel that your guy should already be Instagramming ring ideas to your BFF. And though he may not show it, your boyfriend may be struggling with his own expectations and pressures as well.

Follow these 4 tips to ensure that you're moving in sync, and you and your man will build a solid foundation for your life together.  

1. Take a deep breath. Although you may have good reasons for wanting him to hurry up and propose already—a madly ticking biological clock, family pressures, or other very real concerns—practice stepping out of the “I want” mindset.  Many women come to me saying “I want a husband” or “I want to get married.” It may be helpful instead to say, “I am ready to become a wife” and fully embrace the major changes you will face when your wish becomes reality. In many religious traditions, marriage is viewed as a covenant with God or a spiritual union—a solemn undertaking indeed. Marriage is also a joining together of communities, forever altering your relationships with parents, children, relatives—even your friends. Appreciate that you stand at a momentous threshold, and choose to cross calmly and with intention.

2. Open your eyes to the truth within. I get many calls from women who want to get their boyfriends to propose, but as the conversation continues it becomes clear that the future groom has been MIA for several days or otherwise has a pattern of disrespecting the caller. Ladies, please take note: A man in love who has made the mental commitment to propose is very easy to spot. He may not specialize in fancy seduction moves, or shower you with diamonds and rose petals, but he respects you and is supportive, follows through on his promises to you, and makes sure you know where he is and who he is with. If your boyfriend is a triple-D (regularly disappoints, disrespects, and disappears) recognize that you are just his good-enough-for-now girl, not his future wife.

3. Embrace his perspective. Even when men and women face identical cultural pressures (such as marrying by a certain age or producing an auspicious number of offspring), men typically balance these expectations with practical considerations. Of course, if he is a junior attorney postponing engagement until he makes partner, that may be a red flag. But if he is waiting another 6 months so that he can receive a bonus, a promotion, or clear up some financial issues, consider yourself lucky to be in a relationship with a man who takes seriously his role as your future partner. The first year of marriage is one of the hardest, and addressing practical concerns in advance can be a wise move.

4. Create positive momentum. While your expectation may be that marriage is the inevitable next step in your relationship, your man may think that things are comfortable just as they are. A cozy holding pattern can set in when a couple is already living together, or otherwise treating each other like spouses without having made a formal commitment. In this case, someone has to rub two sticks together or the relationship may lose its sizzle before you have a chance to reach the altar.

  • Although you may think the solution is to confront your guy and detail all the ways in which he is not meeting your needs, he will hear this talk as an ultimatum, and its one-sidedness could cause him to pull back rather than opening up an honest exchange.
  • Instead, start creating your own positive momentum. Have you been avoiding the gym? Tomorrow, get up early and go. Have you fallen into a rut at work? Register for classes to help you transition to a new career. Start reconnecting with old friends. Dress and look your best at all times. If your guy loves you, he will take note of these changes. Just keep going with your positive energy and let things percolate. Over the next few months it will become clear whether your guy is willing to step up and join you, or if you will be moving forward solo.   

Waiting for him to propose may require more self-restraint than you think you can muster, especially if you are a woman who is used to making things happen in other areas of your life. But the proposal is an important way for a man to express his feelings for you. Accept this gift graciously, and you will both share a wonderful memory that will help sustain your connection throughout married life.

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.