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.
Zales
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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.

THE EASY FIX THAT INSTANTLY TURNS YOU INTO A KNOCKOUT

Walk Like An Angel

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

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

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

WHAT MEN THINK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUICK TIP FOR SLUMPED SHOULDERS

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

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

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

HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR CORE 

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

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

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

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

CHANGE YOUR POSTURE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

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

NO PRETZEL POSES, PLEASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer: And your advice works!

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

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

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.)

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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. 

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

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

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

Feelings of "Non-Gratitude" May Reveal the Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

gratitude

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




HOW TO STAY LIGHT AND BREEZY IN ANY SEASON

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

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

What do I mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

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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.