LESS EFFORT, MORE LOVE

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

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

Going after what you want is a necessary life skill.

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

Robyn Wahlgast Less effort more love

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

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

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

FROM E.L.F.

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

FROM ZALES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FROM BCBG

Is it him? Or is it you?

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

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

Logo
Zales

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

But your effort does NOT spark romantic interest in men.

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

#NeverGiveUp

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

Lots of Love,
Robyn

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

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

WHY HE COMPARTMENTALIZES HIS FEELINGS (UNDERSTANDING MEN)

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

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

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

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

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

Consider these 3 observations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logo
Zales

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

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

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

IGXO Cosmetics

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

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

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

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

Like a ghost, you'll be gone. 

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

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

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

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

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

HOW TO DATE A SHY GUY (UNDERSTANDING MEN)

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

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

FROM E.L.F.

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

how to date a shy guy

If you are crushing on a shy guy, I definitely recommend that you read The Rules, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. The Rules are a great, step-by-step introduction toward letting a man lead and set the pace of the relationship.

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

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

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

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

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

FROM DR. BRANDT

The Secret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

e.l.f. cosmetics

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

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

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

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

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

Dial down your effort, not your charm.

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

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

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

FROM BCBG

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

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

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS  #THISISMYOFFICE

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS #THISISMYOFFICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FROM E.L.F.

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

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

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

FROM BCBG

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

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

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

FROM ZALES

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

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

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

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

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

YOU may be HAVING 'CASUAL' SEX WITHOUT INTENDING TO

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

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

TIP: If you believe you need to sleep with a man in order to hold his interest... STOP, think, and slow down. You may be tumbling into an entanglement, instead of advancing a real relationship.

FROM DR. BRANDT

why "third date" sex is way too soon

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

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

Dopamine: From Crush to Crash

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

FROM BCBG

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

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

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

Oxytocin: It’s a Girl Thing

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

TIP: I define casual sex as physical intimacy that is offered to a man before he has emotionally bonded with you.

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

Casual sex is more likely to prevent the growth of emotional bonding than to foster it.

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

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

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

All primary research by Dr. David M. Buss / University of Texas

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

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

ALL MEN ARE PLAYERS

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

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

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

All Men Are Players - New Direction Dating

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

“What Can I Get From Her?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What Can I Get From Him?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1 Dating Mistake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.  

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. 

HOW TO HAVE AN AWESOME FIRST DATE WITH AN ONLINE GUY

16 Best Online Dating Rules for Women

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

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

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

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

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

FROM E.L.F.

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

IGXO Cosmetics

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

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

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

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

FROM DR. BRANDT

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

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS  #THISISMYOFFICE

KNOMO LONDON BACKPACKS #THISISMYOFFICE

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

FROM ASTRID & MIYU

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

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

FROM BCBG

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

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

e.l.f. cosmetics

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

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

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

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

Beauty Brands.  Free Samples With Purchase.

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

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

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

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

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

xo
Robyn

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

3 REASONS WHY THE 'IT GIRL' DOESN'T ALWAYS WIN AT LOVE

Don't settle for applause when what you desire is a love connection.

Don't settle for applause when what you desire is a love connection.

Let's face it, men like you. Maybe your friends even call you a man magnate and envy your ability to gather a crowd of admirers wherever you go. At work, the buzz is that all the single guys are crushing on you.

And yet, despite these conquests, your social sparkle hasn't yet manifested Mr. Right. It seems so unfair—shouldn’t it be an asset to be popular with the boys? And aren’t you increasing your chances of getting paired up when you make eligible men the center of your social universe?

Here are 3 reasons why being on the most-wanted list doesn’t necessarily help you score in romance—along with ways to tweak your game so that you are sure to win.

1. Your regularly-scheduled appearances have him yawning and reaching for the remote. If you enjoy being at the center of a group, that’s a bonus—you are probably better than most singles at getting out and meeting new people. But the problem comes in when your attendance at events is so consistent that everyone has your schedule memorized. Do you always go out for beers on Wednesday nights with your work buddies? Maybe one of your office mates has fantasized about asking you out one-on-one, but since you’re so available his drive to approach is quickly disappearing. What’s the rush, thinks Mr. Lazypants, I’ll see her tomorrow night with the crew.

From now on, make for the elevator as soon as each workday ends, and go to the gym or out with non-work friends instead. Interested in a cute guy who volunteers at your church coffee hour? Say hi after the service, but skip the small talk and donuts, and go for a run with other friends instead. If a man is interested in taking things to the next level, he will get the idea that he’d better take action or you’ll leave him in the dust.

2. He’s starting to see you as a wingman rather than the main attraction. Being entertaining and fun are terrific qualities to have and can net you an appreciative male audience, but your opportunity for flirtation could get lost in the snorts and guffaws. To ensure that you remain a glamour girl—and not just the funny girl—dress up your wit in a little seductive mystery. Learn to punctuate your routine with silence, and generously share center stage with others. If you are naturally an extrovert, go ahead and have your moment in the spotlight (we love that about you) but then disappear rather than holding forth all night. Maybe one of your fans has a secret crush on you; by leaving him wanting more, you have the chance to ignite desire and haunt his thoughts. Isn’t that better than being his silly little sister?

3. You may be substituting applause for true connection. When you’re the It Girl surrounded by appreciative guys, it’s easy to believe that a lasting relationship is right around the corner; surely someone in the group is The One, right? We fool ourselves into thinking that since we easily attract a man’s attention we are somehow well on our way toward capturing his heart. But amor may be as elusive as ever; he may admire you but not in that way. If what you really want is to be part of a couple, be careful not to confuse bro affection with the real thing. Instead, sign up for speed-dating or Meetup activities and start being more purposeful in your social choices. Don’t feed your need for attention at the expense of fulfilling your need for an intimate connection.

Male friends are wonderful and we value having them in our lives. But if you are a single woman who is searching for her Mr. Right, don’t get lulled into complacency because you find yourself hanging with the boys on a Saturday night. Keep your relationship goals in focus, and start turning down some of those group hang-outs. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that by shaking up your routine, you’ve sparked new interest and turned a friend into something more.

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. 

ROBYN'S TOP 5 TIPS ON DOING THE RULES

Do you need to treat him mean to keep him keen?

hi Robyn,
I am just starting out with The Rules and I keep hearing about bootcamp rules and strict rules. How do I know if I’m being strict enough and when would I want to be bootcamp? My gf says I should be b*tchier with guys, but I’m not sure.
Thanks,

Rachael

READ FIRST: ALL ABOUT "THE RULES"

ROBYN'S TOP 5 TIPS ON DOING THE RULES

This is an email I recently received from a new subscriber, and it reminded me how much confusion there is around doing the Rules successfully. If you’re reading this blog and you’re not sure what The Rules are, check out www.therulesbook.com to learn more about The Rules book and its updated version, Not Your Mother’s Rules, by authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

Do you need to treat him mean to keep him keen?

FROM DR. BRANDT

Tip #1: The chase should be fun — for him and for you.

I like to say that if a woman is going to do The Rules she should do them exactly as written rather than “strictly” because some women go too far and actually act strict, like a sour old granny. That’s not very sexy. You want to ignite a chase, and the chase should be fun — for him and for you.

TIP: If you can do The Rules strictly and be a pleasure to be with, you are a Rules Girl.   

Some girls get the idea that they should act like b*tches to appear challenging and not-so-easy. Understandably, these women want to communicate that they have strong boundaries, so that they will be treated well. Unfortunately, being deliberately difficult often has the reverse effect: it signals that you are on guard and worried about being [pick one]:

  • Stood up
  • Cheated on
  • Abandoned
  • Forgotten

Instead, practice channeling the serenity of a woman who is always respected and cherished in relationships. (You don't know there's any other way!) Emotionally healthy women are mysterious but real on dates. (See Tip #5)

Your mindset: I have nothing to worry about. Men always treat me well.

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

If you want to marry a quality man — someone who has his act together personally and professionally, and who is open to love — then you want to project the right qualities. The rules woman should be light and breezy, and a pleasure to be with; she has poise and great manners. She is deeply feminine and also easy to connect with. She's not closed off, bitter, or angry. She likes men! She's not nervously looking over her shoulder, waiting for her new guy to disappoint her.

TIP: The Rules woman likes men. She's not nervously looking over her shoulder, waiting for her new guy to disappoint her.

Tip #2: Do all the Rules, all the time.

This is a really important point, because to do the rules well, you’ll want to apply them to all areas of your life. You will have a hard time being rulesy on your dates if you have poor boundaries at work or with your kids and family. Learn to use the rules in a way that naturally fits your personality, and you will be able to practice them all the time. I don’t know many professional environments in which being cold, unapproachable, and mean are great career-building qualities. Mind your own business and avoid gossip and negativity — that’s part of doing the rules at work — and interact with your colleagues in a kind and pleasant way. You will have many more opportunities in life if you choose to live graciously and with good manners.

I get calls from women who have given up on the rules because they have trouble doing them consistently. They might start out in a rules relationship and then let things slide as they mistakenly believe it’s time to be “real” with a boyfriend (i.e., stop doing the rules); or they simply can’t keep it up past the early stages of a relationship. If you focus on being yourself—the best, most confident version of yourself —you may find it easier to do the rules consistently, with everyone, and that’s the best way to internalize healthy boundaries.

FROM BCBG

Tip #3: Confidence is cool, but poise has more power.

Just as men who loudly flaunt their successes can seem insecure — the opposite of what they hope to project — the mean girl is also less desirable than a woman who quietly radiates true inner confidence. I have seen women go overboard at singles events or in clubs, trying to seem disinterested and aloof, or bantering with men in a rude manner. Instead of seeming cool these girls are just awkward. Understand that if a man finds you physically attractive, he will pursue you regardless of how grumpy or ill-mannered you are — for short-term fun. The problem is that you won’t attract and retain a quality guy who will want to bring you into his life for keeps. Don't be a player's prize for the night.

"When I'm at a club or party, I head straight for the meanest girl cuz I know she's easy, lol. She is fronting but underneath she's been hurt... Lots of these girls have a sad story, they've been dumped and used."
 — Darius (age 26)
"Real men don't love b*tches. But we'll sleep with one if she's hot. ;)"
— Mike (age 37)

Marriage-minded men are looking for a woman who is naturally poised and relaxed. You will instantly signal quality if you practice an open and quiet confidence when you are in social settings. Always listen more than you speak, and you will not seem nervous — even if you have first-date jitters. Fully accepting and being at peace with who you are is an essential part of your beauty. Successful men choose wives who can handle themselves in any social setting and who are gifted at connecting people (this is just a hard-wired preference). Interacting easily with those around you can help you attract your Mr. Right. 

FROM E.L.F.

Tip #4: Be a Bootcamp Beauty Queen.

Bootcamp Rules (the strictest interpretation of the official Rules) can help the “overly nice, gushy girl” present a stronger, more balanced personality. However, the effect should be more Beauty Queen than Sour Old Granny. We're not trying to punish men. As always, you'll want to bring a fresh and feminine spirit to your behavior.

TIP: If you're not normally bootcamp, and you feel the need to suddenly become super-strict with a man who is not treating you well, this may be a red flag.

There is one scenario where bootcamp rules can't help, and that is if you’re dating Mr. Wrong. If you feel the need to be bootcamp with your guy, it could mean that deep down, you don’t trust him. Be careful that you aren’t simply delaying the inevitable. If you’ve caught him cheating on you or otherwise truly disrespecting you, he is not your Mr. Right, and bootcamp rules are not going to change that. The rules say to move on — not to invest more time and energy in a man who doesn’t love you.

Finally, don't overlook the power of feminine vulnerability. In fact, a man simply can't fall in love with you — not in a deep, lasting way — if he doesn't first feel protective toward you. Make sure you show him your softer side as you do bootcamp rules, so that he can fully connect with you. 

Tip #5: Be Real.

Connecting with another person is exciting. It's a first date... you make eye contact mid-sentence... and you just kind of know: this person is my kind, my tribe. Men crave this jolt of emotional connection just as much as women do. In fact, if it's not there at all, he will get bored and eventually move on. (Amazingly beautiful women are sometimes left on sidelines of love, for exactly this reason.) 

Being mysterious includes having depth. (To be holding back, you have to have something to hold back!) When your manner suggests that there is much to know about you... that's when you create true intrigue. That's when a man becomes interested in knowing more. That's the beginning of a chase that leads to lasting love, not just sex.

TIP: When a woman combines the mystery of The Rules with a genuine realness and presence, there is no limit to her ability to enchant men.   

Remember, The Rules are like vitamins: in the right dose they are healthy and positive; but don’t assume that doing more than is necessary or taking them to extremes will get you a better result. Be hard to get—but not impossible to get. Do the rules as written, with warmth and charm, and you’ll be attractive and confident in all areas of your life. All of us are capable of achieving the inner radiance that comes from being a Rules woman.

READ NEXT: ALL ABOUT "THE RULES"

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

ICE.com

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. 

Default Banner

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.

Thanks for reading! If you found this post helpful, try my FREE email newsletter.

DATING AFTER DIVORCE (6 TIPS FOR WOMEN)

dating after divorce tips for women

Even when you are the one to initiate separation or divorce—and regardless of how unhappy you might have been with your ex—the ending of a marriage is a significant life event. Make sure you take the time to acknowledge this significance. Journaling can be a great way to record lessons learned and mourn that past version of you. Additionally, if you feel that you would benefit from counseling or therapy, be sure to seek help and take care of yourself.

As soon as you can, though, it is wise to tip-toe back into the dating pool. Male attention has a way of energizing us and making us feel younger, prettier, and happier in general. The following tips for Dating After Divorce will ensure that you take things slow, protect your heart, and maintain healthy boundaries with your dates.  

1. MAINTAIN REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. Sometimes a romantic euphoria can kick in when a woman starts dating again. You begin to imagine that all your relationship needs will now be fulfilled (especially if romance was waning in your marriage), and that each date brings the promise of lasting love. The danger is that you will open your heart too quickly, and project too-good-to-be-true qualities onto men who may not reciprocate your feelings. 

2. TAKE IT SLOW. Put some rules into place so that you are sure to take things slowly with a new man, even when your heart says "Go!" Try seeing your guy only once or twice a week, to start. You will have a much easier time maintaining healthy boundaries, and ensure that you aren't neglecting other areas of your life, if you follow this rule. (As a side benefit, your guy may realize that in order to see you whenever he wants, he will need to marry you!)

3. BEWARE THE OFFICE FLIRT. Under other circumstances, attention from a friendly male co-worker or neighbor would be harmless. But when you're emotionally vulnerable, it can be easy to mistake friendliness for romantic intent, and waste time on a (one-sided) fantasy relationship. As a general rule, never assume that attention and flirting indicates true romantic interest. If a man wants to date you, he will ask you out. If you are sitting around wondering what his intentions are, he probably doesn't have any. 

4.  FOCUS ON FITNESS. I include this tip in all my posts because it is so important for life-long happiness. 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. 

5.  ADD SINGLE 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. Also, it will help you to have one or two single friends with whom you can go to events and fill up your social calendar. 

6.  JOIN AN ONLINE DATING SITE. When a newly single woman tells me she's not ready for online dating, I remind her: Just because you post a profile does not mean you are obligated to actually go on a date. Maybe you will want to go when the right man contacts you and asks you out. Try it and see! 

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.