WHY HE COMPARTMENTALIZES HIS FEELINGS (UNDERSTANDING MEN)

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

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

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

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

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

Consider these 3 observations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IGXO Cosmetics

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

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

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

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

Like a ghost, you'll be gone. 

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

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

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

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

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

THE PERFECT GIFT FOR ANY MAN

the secret to getting closer to any man 

Women are like this: We experience absolute JOY through the act of gift-giving. Forget Valentine's Day, we'd happily exchange jewelry and trinkets with our friends each and every day. What else is a "friendship" bracelet but a little girl's first expression of affection? This is how women bond with each other. We create connection through the exchange of gifts.

While men certainly enjoy receiving presents from loved ones, it is not a key part of male bonding. (You don’t see many friendship bracelets being exchanged in the man cave.) In fact, an emotional bond has to exist FIRST, before a man can truly relish receiving that carefully-researched antique whatsit you purchased for him on eBay. For you, receipt of such a precious gift would make you feel deeply connected to the giver. For him... not so much. That expensive token of affection is just not the path to his heart. (In fact, if he hints that his taste does run to expensive toys and timepieces, RUN the other way, because he is not your Mr. Right.)

A man has to be emotionally bonded, first, before a woman's gift really speaks to his heart.

With the gifting season upon us, let’s take a minute to focus on that difference in gender wiring:

  • When a woman receives a gift, she often feels more emotionally bonded to the giver. Her affections may actually grow over time, through the receipt of small presents. She is wired to appreciate this form of acknowledgment and to feel cherished through it.
  • A man has to be emotionally bonded, first, before a woman's gift really speaks to his heart. You can't coax him into loving you more by giving him things. As his love bond grows, a mature man takes far greater satisfaction in assuming the role of giver, rather than receiver. He feels cherished when a woman acknowledges and appreciates all that he gives to her.
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If you’re already in a deeply committed relationship, then you and your mate know best what that perfect present looks like — whether it’s a special experience, a “we” gift, or simply the celebration of another year together as a family.

But when you are newly dating, and don’t yet know quite where the relationship is headed, female instincts might incorrectly lead you into an over-giving frenzy. Given how men are wired, you now know that less is more when buying a present for your guy. Since I know it’s in your nature to splurge, and you don’t want to “just” buy him a hardcover about his favorite sports hero — here are 3 additional presents you are welcome to spoil him with as much as you wish:

  1. Appreciation — for all he gives you and all he does for you.
  2. Femininity — When you embrace and express your femininity, you give him permission to find joy in being male. There is no shaming or blaming for our intrinsic differences.
  3. Vulnerability — Stripping away the polished exterior you may need to wear at work, and relaxing into a softer, more authentic you.  
TIP: A man knows he is at his best, most masculine self, when he can protect and provide for others. Your vulnerability helps bring his best self to the surface.

Your vulnerability unlocks his loving, protective side.

FROM ZALES

Because there is a lot of confusion about what it means to be vulnerable in an emotionally healthy way, I want to leave you with some tips for bringing your vulnerability to the surface. (To be clear, this never involves placing yourself in an unsafe situation or relationship. Quite the opposite. An emotionally healthy woman requires a foundation of trust and respect before she can connect in a vulnerable way.)

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

Bring your vulnerability to the surface with a man you trust.

To unlock your softer side, take off your hyper-responsible “professional” or “parent” mask, and don’t worry about earning an A+. You’re safe here. Go ahead and give yourself permission to:

  • Be at a loss for words
  • Be unprepared
  • Blush
  • Pass, instead of answering every question
  • Don’t think up a witty comeback
  • Be confused
  • Forget
  • Misplace your car keys
  • Laugh at yourself, at life, at him(!)
  • Be playful
  • Be irresponsible
  • Relax
  • Be real

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

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

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

BRINGING ROMANCE BACK IN OVER-40 DATING

The 40+ dating scene can feel pretty confusing at times. On the surface, adulting may look tame and business-like, but there’s a lot of pent-up energy under all the baggage of divorce, estrangement, and break-ups. Even if (most) single, mature women aren’t sashaying around like the singers from Fifth Harmony, it’s normal and healthy to want to “flex” for that Mr. Wonderful you’ve been on a few dates with. You want him to kiss you, put his hands in your hair, and just generally make you feel 22 again — even if you’re perfectly content to actually be 47.

So how do you turn up the heat in a way that feels age-appropriate?

True glamour is ageless.  (Monica Bellucci, actress.)

True glamour is ageless. (Monica Bellucci, actress.)

Here are some tips for igniting romance when you’re starting fresh and playing for keeps:

TIP #1: Take it slow.

I know it has been way too long, you’ve never felt this way about a man before (seems like), and you’re longing to feel his arms around you. But be patient, girl. It’s no fun to be a man’s soft landing or rebound girl, after his heart was broken by The One and before he moves on to The Next One. Men respect you more and will find you more alluring when you have high standards.

TIP #2: Let him lead.

Just because you CAN make the first move doesn’t mean you should. As we age it can be easy for male and female energies to blur, either due to hormonal shifts or simply because we get used to living alone and compensating for a missing partner. Polarity is necessary to spark sexual attraction. While you may think you are doing nothing or “letting a great opportunity slip by,” it’s best to hold back and wait for him to move things forward if you want to progress beyond friendship.

TIP #3: Move on quickly if it’s not meant to be.

Don’t try to force a connection with a man who isn’t feeling it. He might say It’s not you, it’s him, and he’s not looking to start something serious. In man-speak, that translates into he’s not looking to start something serious. Don't be the woman who works hard to convince him otherwise, or who tries to earn his affection and attention. If he expresses any kind of hesitation, respect his honesty but don’t settle for a friends-with-benefits situation that will just leave you feeling empty.

TIP #4: Don’t forget to flirt.

Master flirts are so good at making men feel like men that they don’t even realize what they are doing. A great flirt wears feminine, form-fitting clothing, always smells wonderful, and lets her date order for her, open doors, and take the lead in conversational topics. Being ladylike, in general, is flirtatious. It telegraphs that you know your date is a man and you are behaving differently with him than you would with a pack of girlfriends. That is the essence of flirting — revealing your most feminine side with a member of the opposite sex. (For more tips on being light and breezy on dates even if you feel anything but read "How To Be An Unforgettable Flirt.")

Whatever you do, don’t buy into the idea that romance is dead and hook-up culture has replaced courtship. Just because singles now connect through apps like Hinge and Tinder doesn’t mean that our fundamental needs and desires have changed. Remember when guys used to honk their car horns at cute girls, an earlier form of swiping right? All that hope and excitement is still there. But now you are old enough to really savor it, taking it slow with someone who appreciates the chance to start something real — with you.

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

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

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

7 TIPS FOR ATTRACTING LASTING LOVE

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

You are enough.

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

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

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

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

SUGGESTED READING


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Rikki speaks with Caller #1.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. You will train yourself to expect poor treatment.

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

[Rikki speaks with Caller #2.]

Female Friends

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

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

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

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

TIP #4: Avoid Fantasy Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Rikki reads Facebook messages from listeners.]

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

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

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

TIP #7: Refresh your life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. If you're online dating (or thinking about it) read How To Have An Awesome First Date With An Online Guy for road-tested tips and advice. If you're curious about The Rules, find out how to rock The Rules your own way and why reading The Rules book just might change your life. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.  

FROM A BROKEN ENGAGEMENT TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER

#NeverGiveUp

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

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

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

Getting engaged: It's not about the bling.

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

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

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

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

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

Logo
Zales

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

FROM ZALES

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

FROM DR. BRANDT

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

WAS IT A ‘RULES’ RELATIONSHIP?

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

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

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

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

FROM BCBG

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

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

Tommy Hilfiger

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

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

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

FROM E.L.F.

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

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

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

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

Never give up.

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

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

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

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

Wishing you lots of love,
Robyn

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

HOW TO 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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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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.