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.  

2 SIMPLE STEPS TO YOUR BEST ONLINE DATING PROFILE

sexy committed couple

Don’t let background noise distract him from a good thing You!

It is common for women to feel frustrated and disappointed with the quality of replies they get on online dating sites. Either they aren’t receiving many responses at all, or the ones they do receive are along the lines of “hey there” without any thought or effort—the dating equivalent of spam. Even worse, you can start to feel that you are attracting only the toads lurking around the edges, while the cute, normal guys seem to pass right by.

So what can a single girl do? Isn’t online dating like a random carnival game? —if Lady Luck isn’t on your side, are you destined to play a losing hand?

Not exactly. While it is true that online dating is partly a numbers game, there are many steps you can take to stack the deck in your favor. I just finished my 200th online dating profile makeover and wanted to celebrate by sharing my top profile tips with you—tips that worked for me when I was single, and that work now for my private clients. (Learn how to set up the best possible first date in this article, How To Have An Awesome First Date With An Online Match.)

If you put aside all the personality quizzes, questionnaires, and fancy-sounding algorithms, the successful dating profile delivers on old-fashioned advertising goals— the same goals used to sell everything from shoes to potato chips:

  • Create desire—a need to buy.
  • Create a sense of urgency—the need to buy it now.

Now, let me be clear: we are not talking about a trip to Tiffany at this point. But a man could look at your profile and think "She's sexy" and "I've got to meet her"— that is the desire and need to buy trigger that I’m talking about. As far as the urgency part, it usually follows rather naturally if yours is the look he's after. So the only elements you need to pay close attention to in your profile are your handle (the “name” you’re going by on the dating site) and your photos. That's it. Everything else in your profile is there to support your goals of creating desire and a sense of urgency. Keep your descriptive text brief and action-oriented: things you like to do and places you like to go. 

Default Banner

If anything in your profile could get in the way of your ad objectives, you must eliminate it. This is an ad—not your life story. The sooner you meet in real life, the sooner you will each know if yours is truly a match. No computerized mixologist can guarantee a compatible level of chemistry and attraction, or a shared sense of humor. A heartfelt essay on your hopes, dreams, and aspirations may be worth writing—and preserving in your journal—but it is out of place on a dating site and cannot truly bring him closer to the "real you."

So how will these advertising principles guide your own profile makeover?

1. Create a physically descriptive handle for yourself —one that says “pretty,” is easy to remember, and that matches your personal style and look. Our example will be a woman named Kimberly, 33 years old, with brown hair and dark eyes, who spends weekends playing in a municipal volley ball league.  Possible handles for her could be SportyBrunette_33, PetiteBrunette_1000, VolleyBallGirl_BrownEyes, or DarkNLovely_2014. What Kimberly would not want to do is use a version of her name, which can be too identifying or just awkward; “Kimber4580” is the type of handle that is common when we let a computer call the shots. Pay attention to the trailing number, which is often needed to make your name unique. Never use your birth year, as that can leave you vulnerable to ID theft or fraud. Your handle is not the place to reference your favorite movie, book, or motivational saying; focus on the goals, and you’ll have plenty to talk about when you meet.

ICE.com

A note on eHarmony: I advise clients to create a handle, regardless of the fact that the site encourages the use of real first names. (A middle name or nickname can work well; or just pick a name that begins with the same initial.) Men live in the same world we do, and they truly understand that using a real name on a public dating site is not the smartest move. 

2. Post the best photos of yourself that you possibly can. You will need 2 photographs at minimum—a smiling headshot and a ¾ or full body shot. I probably don’t need to tell you that the profile pic is everything, but sometimes we all need a little push to get to the Absolute Best Photograph Ever, which is what you should aim for. Many women invest in a photo shoot (one where the photographer comes to your home is best, so you will be relaxed and natural), but it is perfectly fine to use casual shots that friends or family have snapped. Make sure you crop out all other people in the photos before you upload them, as well as surroundings that might be too identifying or just odd.

Many women aren’t sure "how sexy" to look in their profile pics. For guidance, just remember the context. Men are viewing your photos on a dating site; they know that you are available, seeking a man, and that ultimately you probably enjoy getting physical with guys (or you wouldn’t be looking for one!). Therefore, to mention sex in your ad, pose in lingerie or skimpy bikinis, or otherwise flaunt an over-the-top sensuality comes across as…well, a little needy and perhaps even desperate. (Instagram "models" have different goals from yours.) Desperation is bait for a certain type of guy, but he’s probably not your idea of a great catch. So do show off your assets, but skip the boudoir shots.

When you work your dating profile like an ad—and don’t expect it to communicate every little nuance of your personality—you are much more likely to enjoy quality results: more real-life dates with men who find you attractive and want to be there with you. Streamline your descriptive text—sticking to career, hobbies, activities, and favorite places—so that nothing gets in the way of your objectives. Your next match will view your profile and think, “I better call her before someone else does.” And then the real fun begins. 

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.

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.  

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. 

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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5 TIPS FOR DATING WITH TINDER

Don't be fooled: Tinder may seem new and different, but the rules for dating haven't changed.

Don't be fooled: Tinder may seem new and different, but the rules for dating haven't changed.

Tinder can be a great way to meet new men. But don’t assume that because the app taps into your Facebook network, your matches will be less random or more "safe" than with an online dating site or guys you meet in real life. Stick to the same rules you would use when meeting any new man. 

Also, while you should go ahead and get comfortable with Tinder, understand that there is always something new around the corner. Whatever the next hot dating trend turns out to be, the basic rules will always stay the same. 

TIP 1: You access Tinder through Facebook, because that’s how the app will match you to other Tinder users. So make sure your Facebook profile is up to date. Your main photo should clearly showcase you, not a crowd of people or a general scene. Also, although you should definitely include a full-body photo in your Tinder profile, aim for a "sporty" look rather than full-on sexy, which will mainly earn you suggestive and inappropriate messaging. 

TIP 2: The app will suggest possible dates for you, based on your shared location and interests. You swipe right for "yes," left for "no." Go ahead and swipe right if you are interested in a man, but do nothing further. If your right-swipes are interested in you, they will message you. Don’t be fooled into making the first move, just because Tinder seems new and different, and the app implies that you should be reaching out to your matches. Any potential relationship will work best if he pursues you from the beginning.

TIP 3: Don’t be an A+ student, responding instantly to every message you receive, and answering every question completely. You are much too busy for that. If a man wants to hear all about you, he can ask you out. (It is much more likely that he will ask you out if you aren't overly available and don’t over-share in your messaging.) 

TIP 4: Similarly, don’t become a Tinder "text pal." Witty Tinder banter can go on for weeks, if you let it. Politely move your conversation to the phone. You need to phone-screen anyone you may be planning to meet; you can tell a lot about a person from a brief voice chat. Sticking to this rule may make you seem a little more high-maintenance than the next girl, who is willing to meet over texts, but that’s o.k.  Better safe than sorry. 

TIP 5: Be discreet. Because you are potentially meeting and dating friends-of-friends, don’t broadcast your Tinder activity. As with online dating, some men may not want their contacts to know that they are using apps and websites to meet women.

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.