WHY HE COMPARTMENTALIZES HIS FEELINGS (UNDERSTANDING MEN)

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

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

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

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

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

Consider these 3 observations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IGXO Cosmetics

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

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

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

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

Like a ghost, you'll be gone. 

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

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

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

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

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

THE EASY FIX THAT INSTANTLY TURNS YOU INTO A KNOCKOUT

Walk Like An Angel

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

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

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

WHAT MEN THINK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUICK TIP FOR SLUMPED SHOULDERS

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

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

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

HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR CORE 

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

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

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

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

CHANGE YOUR POSTURE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

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

NO PRETZEL POSES, PLEASE

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

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

STRETCH YOUR WAY TO A GREAT FIRST DATE

Let’s face it: meeting new people can be stressful. For many single people, the mere thought of going on a date triggers sweaty palms and a pounding heart.

That's a shame, because first-date jitters can cause us to behave in ways that turn off a potential partner.  A woman is at her most attractive when she is receptive, playful, and open to a man’s interest—radiating warmth like a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. But when we are overly stressed we appear quite the opposite:  rigid, guarded, and maybe even a bit sour. Worse, this nervousness is highly contagious.  Your guy may notice that he feels uneasy in your presence —without fully understanding why—and simply decide to avoid your company in the future. Potentially compatible couples can miss out on a love connection because someone was feeling “off” in that first meeting.

stretch your way to a great first date

If you can find a healthy way to relax both your mind and body before dates, you are guaranteed to reveal your most delicious self, and increase your odds for finding romance. Now, if you already enjoy practicing yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or other deep relaxation techniques, then by all means keep doing what you’re doing.  Simply add a 15-minute relaxation session to your regular beauty routine and you’ll be well set up for a great night. But if this concept is new to you, I want to share a simple set of exercises that are practical and effective, and that you can easily do at home or at the office.

 “Love Attraction" Relaxation Practice

5 Easy Steps

1. Use music to channel good vibes. Your tunes don’t have to be calming soundscapes or traditionally soothing in any way. Instead, choose songs that make you feel sexy and confident. Two of my favorites are That Lady by the Isley Brothers and Something Beautiful by Trombone Shorty.

2. Release tension in your upper body with Shoulder Rolls. Great posture instantly transforms your entire look and can make anyone appear healthier and more youthful. This simple exercise will get your blood flowing, and encourage your shoulders to settle down and back—a visual cue to others that you are confident and relaxed, even if you don’t yet feel that way. [Instructional video here.*]

3. Brighten your complexion—and your thoughts—with the Ragdoll Stretch. From a standing position, simply bend over at the waist, as though you are going to touch your toes. Your knees can softly bend as well. Let your arms flop and go limp, or cradle your elbows. Let your head sway gently. Breathe deeply, in and out, in a rhythm that feels good to you. [instructional video here.*]

4. Take a load off, with the Wall Stretch. Any pose that increases blood flow to the brain will help you feel more energized, lively, and fun. This is an inverted posture that is a modified version of a headstand. Lie on your back and scoot toward a wall. Gently walk your feet up the wall, so that your feet and legs are elevated. Just hang out in this position for a few minutes, enjoying the reversed blood flow.  Your feet and legs will welcome the relief, as well. [Instructional video here.*]

5. Sit or stand comfortably and laugh. Seriously! Popularly called “laughter yoga,” this type of practice has been around for centuries. Deliberately laughing may seem awkward at first, but over time it will come to feel like any other breathing or deep relaxation technique. Laughter helps bring out the lightness within you. When you’re meeting someone new, leave heavy thoughts of finding The One behind. Bringing a “light” attitude to your dating life—enjoying the moment and letting go of expectations—is a more loving and generous approach, and may ultimately help you connect better with your date.

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

*Instructional videos by Dr. Jeanette Reed / Family Chiropractic Wellness Center

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

ALL MEN ARE PLAYERS

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

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

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

All Men Are Players - New Direction Dating

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

“What Can I Get From Her?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What Can I Get From Him?”

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

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

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

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

3 TIPS TO UNLOCK YOUR AUTHENTIC FEMININITY

There is something men crave, that youabsolutely and definitelyalready have, that will enchant your special guy. . .

Most women are familiar with the idea that men need acceptance, respect, and gratitude, to thrive in a long-term relationship. These are qualities men actively seek out in their careers, through friendships, and in their romantic and family lives. But what else attracts a man—helplessly—to the woman in his life? Logically, it is what a man cannot get through his own efforts, or at work, or from friends, and can only get from you:  the slow, sensual burn of feminine essence.

While we may intuitively understand that male-female polarity is attractive, it is not always clear how to communicate our femininity in a way that feels authentic. Men are not necessarily intoxicated by the color pink, Barbie-like features, or lace and dainty gestures—and this may not be your feminine ideal, either. 

Instead, he is secretly hoping you will knock him senseless by revealing your inner goddess. This female essence burns inside every woman, and has nothing to do with a particular body type, plastic features, or superficial style. Below are 3 practical tips to help any woman—at any age—express her femininity in a unique and authentic way that is universally attractive to men:

  1. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable. Put down your shield and leave the Warrior Spirit behind. Sure, you need to be fierce on occasion; that inner fire is both healing and protective when life throws real challenges your way. But to truly connect with a man, it helps to open your heart and risk being vulnerable. When you look into his eyes, soften your gaze (think “I accept you and like you just as you are”—even if you don’t know him very well) and assume good intentions. This is a trusting position and it may feel really hard to do! Practice this openness daily, with everyone you encounter. Intentional vulnerability is a learned behavior and can become a natural part of how you interact, drawing others to you in an almost magical way. When you take a break from defensive behaviors like questioning, judging, and evaluating men, you may find yourself feeling more confident and more at peace with who you are, as well.
     
  2. Give yourself permission to be sexy. Don’t wait until date #3 to highlight your sensuality. Let men know from the very beginning that you are open and receptive to their interest. Highlighting an hourglass figure or displaying cleavage, bare legs, bare shoulders, a round derriere—whatever features you possess—are all powerful ways to flirt without words. If you hear a voice in your head that chides you for looking “too sexy” or that suggests wearing form-fitting clothing is “cheating,” then you will have to make peace with this inner judge to move forward in your romantic life. Allow your hips to sway when you walk. Many of us were shamed out of our natural, feminine gait so long ago that we’ve lost touch with how good it can feel. The goddess is proud of her curves and she knows there is nothing wrong with moving like a woman. 
     
  3. Share your passion. Talking about a subject that fires your imagination makes your eyes sparkle and your cheeks glow, and makes even the shyest person more captivating. If you are one of those lucky people for whom your day job channels your passions, by all means go ahead and talk about work when you’re out with a man. But for most women, work is a conversational topic to avoid. We tend to carry lingering stress with us, long after the workday is done, and over-sharing about our day can end up being a dumping session that actually thwarts emotional connection. There really is no more effective love potion than genuine passion—and you may find it is highly contagious. In fact, make it your mission to find out what gets him fired up; once you know what his passions are, you are well on your way toward capturing his heart.

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

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

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.  

HOW TO ACCEPT YOUR INNER REBEL AND FIND HEALTHY LOVE, TOO

We adopt all kinds of defensive postures throughout life. The “Rebel” is a powerful one, and can give you a little bit of swagger when you’re feeling vulnerable. Each woman has her own version of this pose, depending on her individual style. Here are some variations you may have tried on at some point—or maybe you have your own spin:

  • Bad Girl
  • Outlaw
  • Femme Fatale
  • Ice Queen
  • Black Widow
  • Vixen
rebel love doesn't have to be bad love

Of course, true rebellion is more than a pose. Even at an individual scale, we must fight against injustices aimed at our self-worth, and against past or present abuses of every kind. We may choose to live "off the grid" or otherwise opt out of conventionality. This type of rebellion is empowering and essential to human freedom.  

But what I’m talking about today is different: rejecting “ordinary” human experiences because we mistakenly believe we aren’t welcome in the regular world—a choice that actually limits your options rather than opening up new ones. Or adopting a dark mask to cover up feelings of pain and emptiness. Feelings of isolation, in particular, can lead us toward a tough-girl stance. The irony is that such a pose may drive people further from our lives, making real what was originally just perception. 

Men notice right away when a woman is trying to appear tougher than she feels, and they know it is a sign of weakness and insecurity. That is a Playground 101 Rule, and boys learn those lessons early in life! Guys who seek out and flatter "tough girls" are often manipulators, knowingly preying on the weak and vulnerable. 

When I was younger and single, I’m embarrassed to say that I thought of myself as a femme fatale, and shielded myself with sarcasm. My armor was a cutting sense of humor that would have made Liz Lemon seem sweet by comparison. It was a hard-shelled act that covered up feelings I had a difficult time acknowledging. Though there was a lot that I enjoyed about being single, I experienced loneliness and depression, too. It’s hard to watch your friends effortlessly pair off, and to rely on guy-buds for the kind of domestic chores you’d rather be sharing with a fiancé or husband—all those hours wasted with Mr. Wrong, assembling a new Ikea dresser. At my lowest point, this is how I felt:

  • I am lonely
  • I feel left out
  • I am defective
  • No one will choose me
  • I am unchosen

Then, life would pick up, I’d shake the blue feelings, and the pose would be dropped for a while. Over time, as I learned to relate and date in a more healthy way, I was able to connect with men in a softer—and truer—way. I didn’t need or want the armor anymore because my confidence was real. And I had faith that someday I would find happiness with the right man.     

But sometimes we get stuck in a particular pose, because it works for us and we’ve become used to it. And then we start to lower our expectations to fit around that false idea of ourselves. This is what happens when we internalize the Bad Girl/Bad Boy ideas, and start to identify with all that is wrong and broken.

I met with a client recently who was so used to wearing a mask of dark cynicism that she often didn’t notice it, herself. But her dates certainly did. Her hard sense of humor was turning off men who were initially very attracted to her. She went on plenty of first dates, but guys seemed to disappear afterward. She believed that she was showing these men her “true self” by regaling them with the bitter commentary she entertained friends and coworkers with. To her dates, she just seemed angry and depressed—not the gorgeous, fun girl that those who know her well get to experience. In letting only a tiny sliver of her personality shine, she was actually masking her truest self, and revealing only her darkest side. 

Several years ago I met with a client who had been referred to me by her mother. The daughter had a taste for “bad boys” and her mom was concerned. Again, it was a similar situation. During college, my client had adopted a classic bad girl pose; it fit so well, and made her feel so powerful, that she really started to believe that “bad love” was her thing. Of course, if all you know of love is on-again, off-again drama, you may believe that romance with a “nice guy”—someone dependable and accommodating—is not meant for you.

But my client was exhausted by the drama and pain that came from pursuing unavailable men. She was ready to break free from the limitations that she, herself, had placed on her love life. She eventually connected with a great guy who treats her like a queen. Now they live the rebel life—together—and are happily raising their twin sons in an artist colony in New Mexico. 

There is nothing wrong with a woman finding emotional strength and validation as an outlaw warrior for whatever cause she believes in. Maybe being an outsider fuels your creative spirit and is a perfectly healthy expression of who you are. But beware the idea that as a rebel, you somehow are destined for broken men and a broken heart. Being true to yourself means taking care of yourself, also. Everyone deserves healthy, lasting love. 

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 blog posts and advice. 

CULTIVATE GRATITUDE, BUT LISTEN TO FEELINGS OF "NON-GRATITUDE"

As the holidays approach, so do messages of gratitude. It is Thanksgiving week in the United States—a time traditionally set aside to celebrate the abundance of the harvest with family and friends, and to give thanks for all the gifts that life has given us over the past year.

You probably already know that developing a gratitude practice is valuable any time of the year. Feeling grateful can open your heart and actually rewire your brain, allowing feelings of peace and happiness to flow more easily into your day-to-day consciousness. Of course, daily prayer and meditation can help us create a grateful mindset. But I also love to share this very practical approach from the folks at Unstuck: 9 Ways To Cultivate Gratitude.  

Feelings of "Non-Gratitude" May Reveal the Truth

What happens, though, when we're having difficulty connecting with gratefulness. You know what I mean—those times when you feel overwhelmed by all that isn't going right in your life. You know you "should" feel grateful for what you do have, but very real and pressing problems have you backed against a wall, and a way forward just isn't clear. 

If you do have a daily prayer/meditation routine established, this will help you uncover the truths of your situation. But you may need an extra boost of self-acceptance—and the permission to feel what you feel. These excerpts are from an article by Ken Page, L.C.S.W., called The Healing Gift of Non-Gratitude (I've put some key ideas in bold):

"In our quest for growth, we must mature past the dehumanizing, robotic cheerfulness of “positive thinking”, which pressures us to be grateful for all things always. As if any time we’re not grateful, we’re at fault. Chloroforming our innate sense of discrimination leads to debilitating self-doubt, not enlightenment. Often, the opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude—it’s self love....

Countless times, I’ve seen people keep trying to convince themselves to be more accepting, more patient, more disciplined—to be the bigger person, when their gut-level discomfort is dead-on accurate. I’ve watched so many loved ones and clients stay too long in unhealthy relationships and jobs, just because they thought they weren’t strong enough, grateful enough, or disciplined enough to fix things....

The places where we feel most broken often don’t need to be fixed. What they need is to be heard."

If you are feeling "gut-level discomfort" in any area of your life, whether in a romantic relationship or work situation, sit quietly with yourself and listen. Know that you are enough just as you are, and only surround yourself with those who appreciate and love you. That feeling of non-gratitude may be a sign that it's time to make a change. Remember that the opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude—as we've so often heard—but an authentic expression of self love. 

gratitude

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. 




CHANGE YOUR LIFE, READ THE RULES BOOK

THE RULES BOOK

My interview with Dina Colada, below, was reprinted with permission from the EPIC LOVE website.

Dina Colada: Hi everyone, this is a special EPIC LOVE interview with Robyn Wahlgast of New Direction Dating, a relationship coaching service for women. Robyn uses “The Rules” in her practice, and today we’re going to find out what that’s all about....Robyn, why don’t you give us a quick bio.

Robyn Wahlgast: Well, I’m an east coast girl, now living in Kansas with my wonderful husband and 3 kids. I have been coaching women for over 10 years, and became Rules Certified in 2009.

Dina: So tell us about “The Rules.”

Robyn: The Rules is a relationship book for women written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider that was first published in 1995. Your folks might be more familiar with John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, another relationship classic that was published in 1992. Both books give very compatible advice, in terms of understanding male-female dynamics, male and female energy. The basic idea is that when a woman’s energy is in sync with a man’s the relationship moves forward smoothly, like a dance; but if you’re stepping all over each other’s toes, the relationship will fizzle out.  Your energy style is expressed through your behavior, so a lot of what I’m doing is behavior modeling, teaching women exactly what to say or do to create healthy boundaries with men.

  •  I tell my clients that Men Are From Mars is like your kindly older brother. John Gray’s delivery is direct but gentle, he is addressing both men and women together, and his tone is welcoming and reassuring. It’s an easy book to like.
  • The Rules, on the other hand, is presenting the kind of advice your little brother might share. Little brothers don’t spare your feelings; they tell you exactly what’s going on in the boys-only clubhouse. These are relationship tips women won’t typically hear from other women. So it can be a more difficult book to get into when you first pick it up.

Women need both types of advice. (Learn how to use The Rules to date with healthy boundaries in this article.)

Dina: So give us an example of a “Rule.”

Robyn: The very first rule is “Never call a man and rarely return his calls.” Well, most people only get that far. They think “That’s crazy!” and don’t read any further. That rule #1 is pretty much what gets picked up on by the media and what most people know about the book.

Dina: OK, well I have to stop you there because you know a lot of my clients are men. I have to stick up for my guys and say, it sounds like you are advising women to play games. We don’t like women who play games!

Robyn: Yes, of course. And using or manipulating men is not in the spirit of The Rules book. This is what I tell my clients: we don’t “do The Rules” on men; we do them on ourselves so our crazy girl-in-love behavior doesn’t scare away a great guy. Let me describe it this way:

We all know women who fall in love with men way too fast,  get clingy, needy, and start asking “where is this relationship going.” And that’s after only 3 weeks! Or sometimes really great women fall into a relationship rut, where they can’t get past the 3-month mark with men; they have a whole string of boyfriends but it never seems to go anywhere. That’s a woman who needs to learn new ways of relating to men or she is never going to experience the lasting love she’s looking for.

The Rules tell us to guard our hearts and move slowly in relationships—which is often the opposite of what we instinctively feel like doing, especially when we’re so hot for a particular guy. But many women don’t have a very accurate “guy-dar” for male behavior; we put too much faith in words, and forget about actions. Many women get swept off their feet by men who say “Baby, I’ll never let you down,” and then make excuse after excuse for him when he proceeds to do just that.

Meanwhile, the good guys get left on the sidelines—maybe some of your folks have seen this—and they just shake their heads and mistakenly conclude that girls don’t like nice men and only fall for jerks.

I’ll go even further and say that the way I teach The Rules, nice “diamond in the rough” guys actually get promoted to the top of a woman’s list. If a man has a pattern of saying he’ll call on Tuesday, but he always “forgets” and you don’t hear from him until Sunday, The Rules thing to do is to stop seeing him and move on to a man who treats you with respect. If a man continually lets you down, it doesn’t matter how hot the sex is, or how much you’re obsessed with his George Clooney looks. You move on to a nice guy who actually delivers on his promises. Only love those who love you.

Dina: OK, cool. How did you get involved with the Rules?

Robyn: Back in the 1990s I was a single woman living in Manhattan. When The Rules book was published my reaction was, this is not for me. I believe strongly in always being polite and kind when possible—those are values that my husband and I both work hard to model for our children, today—and at the time it seemed rude to me that I would no longer be meeting men halfway and doing “my share” of the work in dating.

But I started attending The Rules book seminars at The Learning Annex in New York.  Women would stand up and give a 1-minute synopsis of their current relationship. Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider (the authors) would go around the room, giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on each situation, and in a few seconds they would tell the women exactly what to say or do next. They made Jim Cramer’s “Lightening Round” look like a waltz. I knew right away that I needed to re-read the book, and that there was a lot that I had missed the first time.

I mentioned the little brother/older brother analogy before. At the seminars, Ellen and Sherrie talked about how, as they were growing up, they closely watched their brothers interacting with women. Ellen Fein has said that in high school, girls would call her house all the time, chasing after her cute, popular brother. Ellen got the “behind the scenes” view and saw how her brother and his friends were kind of disrespectful toward the girls who chased them. The Rules is the wake-up call that Ellen and Sherrie probably wished they could have given those high school girls years ago!

Dina: Awesome, Robyn, well thanks for joining me today! Everyone, I know you have some thoughts on The Rules so add your comments below. Robyn, if people want to follow up with you what’s the easiest way.

Robyn: Sure, I’m at www.NewDirectionDating.com and my email address is NewDirectionDating@Gmail.com. Thanks so much, Dina, it was fun!

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. 

BABY, YOU'RE SO CLASSIC (9 DATING TIPS FOR WOMEN OVER 40)

over-40 dating tips

Despite what you might hear from some experts, a "mature" woman doesn't need special strategies and tricks to find a husband. What worked at 25 is what will work at 35, 45, 55, and beyond. Cheers, and happy dating!

1.  Don't fall victim to scarcity thinking. There is an abundance of single men your age, and they are easily accessible on Tinder, eHarmony, Match, and even in everyday life. Many are actively looking to get married or remarried, so make sure they can find you. Read my FREE guide to online dating: How To Have A Great First Date With An Online Guy.

2.  All the good ones are not taken.  As an over-40 woman you have the great pleasure of dating men who are also 40+. Having made a few mistakes in the past, and experienced some missed opportunities of their own, these gentlemen don’t waste time. When they want you, they let you know. George Clooney notwithstanding, most men over 40 relish the shared humor, music and movie references, and general camaraderie of women their own age.     

3.  You don't have to play hard-to-get—because you truly are.  Maybe you’re not completely sure that you want to get married. (OK, you are sure, but you don't broadcast it.) You’ve imagined a future in which you remain single and it doesn’t look so bad. This attitude makes you more of a challenge than you might have been in your 30s, and therefore more interesting to men. What a wonderful position to be in.  Mr. Right will have to work hard to earn your time and attention, and to convince you to take a chance on him. 

4.  Your life story is valuable—so don't give it away on the first date. Reveal yourself slowly, over many months, and make him earn each jewel. 

5.  Focus on fitness. Investing in your health and fitness level has a guaranteed return that will positively impact every area of your life. So join the best gym you can afford, and work out regularly with a personal trainer. You'll enjoy the added bonus of meeting men who also embrace a healthy lifestyle. 

6.  Don't overlook the importance of adding new female friends to your social network. The next time you're out-numbered at a singles event, make sure you circulate among the other women in the room. You never know—that new gal pal may have a brother or co-worker who would be perfect for you.  

7.  Don't advertise your wealth and achievements. Your contacts and social network are like glittering treasures. Protect them fiercely and you'll never be exploited or scammed. Likewise, you should be dating seriously before a man learns of your many career accomplishments. If he seems more interested in your status and success than in your love, politely show him the door.

8.  Avoid gold-diggers. Your date should be putting his best foot forward, not advertising his loans, liens, alimony, child support, and business expenses. If his need for cash is a persistent topic, just walk away. (Never lend your date money.)

9.  Appreciate that life is short. So if some red flags get raised with a particular guy, just move on quickly. There really are lots of fish in the sea!

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. 

12 ESSENTIAL ONLINE DATING TIPS FOR WOMEN

BEST online dating tips for women

I developed these tips when I was online dating (which is how I met my husband), and have shared them with my private clients over the years. Now I'm so pleased to be able to share them with you! 
— xo Robyn

I created these tips for women of all ages seeking a long-term, committed relationship through online dating. Following these tips will ensure that you stay safe, work less, eliminate much of the stress and frustrations, and enjoy better results.

TIP#1: Stop being an A+ student. When you join a dating site and it presents you with a complicated questionnaire to fill out, including where you went to high school and your favorite color, guess what? You aren't going to be graded on how complete you are. Skip most of those questions, and concentrate on what men care about: How to please you on a date. The written part of your profile should contain:

  • Places you like to go (include good date venues)
  • Activities you like to do (again, what would work on date)
  • Interests (so he has something to reference in that first message)
  • Done!

TIP#2: Schedule your screen time. Try to spend no more than 2 hours per week answering responses and screening men. This will ensure that you are also getting out and meeting men in real life, will help keep you from getting burned out, and will also send the message to potential dates that your time is valuable and you aren’t sitting around waiting for calls and texts.

TIP#3: Focus on your photo. Men will screen you quickly based on your photo. It does not matter what else you share in your profile; if he doesn’t find your photo attractive he will not contact you. Here is the type of photo men like to see:

  • Happy and smiling—as he hopes you’ll be on the date. 
  • At least one full-body or ¾ view, to show off your assets.
  • Emphasize cleavage or legs (if you have both, go for it).
  • Natural and casual—no suits or business headshots.
  • “Youthful”—this is a look you can achieve at any age. Some of my most youthful-looking friends are in their 60s and 70s. Men love it!

TIP#4: Create a handle that is physically descriptive. The best handles for women are physically descriptive and help men remember your photo(s). Create a dating email account and use your handle as your address. When you register on a dating site you'll use BlondeBeachBabe77@Gmail.com as your address, instead of Susan.Morris@Corporation.com. Always look for ways to hide personal or identifying information, even on sites like eHarmony that encourage the use of real first names. Give your Online Dating Profile a makeover with these additional tips. 

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TIP#5: Don’t contact men first. Let men find you. You must follow this tip if you are looking for long-term relationship success and/or marriage, and it directly contradicts most of the “expert advice” you’ll see on online dating sites.

Sure, some women are lucky and they reach out to a man who would have contacted them first anyway. But luck is not a strategy. You will feel much more secure and relaxed in a relationship if you know he truly desired you from the beginning.

When dating sites send you “suggested matches” to contact, just ignore those suggestions. And don’t sit around searching for eligible men and daydreaming about them, or wondering why they don’t contact you. That’s a sure sign that you need to take a break and go outside.

TIP#6: Protect yourself (and your contacts) from scams.  Some opportunistic men will try to access your personal/business network for their own gain or for online scams. Be cautious with your social media connections: don’t Friend, Link to, or otherwise commit to a social media relationship with a man until at least date #3, when you’re sure he’s for real. And he has to link to you first! Early in a dating relationship, just play dumb and don’t reveal your many followers and celebrity connections.

Likewise, there is no need to reveal your prestigious business title in your profile, or mention it in your first meeting. Don’t use your work email for online dating, or share your office phone number or location. We want him to desire you, not your network.

TIP#7: 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. 

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TIP#8: Don’t be a penpal. After about 3 messages, a man should suggest meeting in real life. (He already decided, the minute he saw your photo, whether you are his type. He does not need more information to make this decision.)  If he doesn't suggest meeting, just put him in the “Next!” pile and move on. Maybe he’s not interested in you, maybe he’s not really available. It doesn't matter. Don’t waste your time. A note on eHarmony: This site encourages the exchange of questions and answers to get the conversational ball rolling. Many men, understandably, go along with this suggested process, which can stretch out the time it takes to actually ask you out. In this case, cut him some slack; he's just trying to do the right thing.   

TIP#9: Move it to the phone. After a man does suggest meeting, send him your phone number (if he hasn't asked for it already), and say "call me 000-0000". If you don’t include “call me” you’re likely to get a text, and it is very important that you phone-screen anyone you intend to meet—you can tell a lot from talking to someone.  It is also much more efficient to plan a first meeting in a phone conversation, rather than endless texts back and forth. (Texts work best in an established relationship.)

TIP#10: Listen to your gut. If you have any hesitations at all about meeting someone, at any point in the process, don’t go. Always meet in public, and either meet friends afterwards or head to another public place such as a health club or coffee bar.  Always play it safe.

TIP#11: Limit the first meeting to an hour. I call this the "sandwich" date because you are going to sandwich it in between other activities, such as work, going to the gym, a class, or other social obligations. This gives you an easy exit, and leaves him wanting more (increasing the chances that he'll ask you for another date). It also prevents you from focusing too much on the date, or unnecessarily working your schedule around his. Read more tips for having a Great First Date With An Online Match.  

TIP#12: Reveal personal details slowly, over several dates. This is for your own protection, in case he turns out to be someone who could be unsafe, but also because your personal life is precious and you don't know yet if he deserves all the 411. Women with good boundaries are stingy with details, and reveal themselves over time. Let him earn your life story.

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