FROM A BROKEN ENGAGEMENT TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER

#NeverGiveUp

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

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

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

Getting engaged: It's not about the bling.

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

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

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

FROM BEAUTY BRANDS

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

Logo
Zales

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

FROM ZALES

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

FROM DR. BRANDT

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

WAS IT A ‘RULES’ RELATIONSHIP?

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

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

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

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

FROM BCBG

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

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

Tommy Hilfiger

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

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

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

FROM E.L.F.

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

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

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

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

Never give up.

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

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

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

Glengorm Castle, Scotland

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

Wishing you lots of love,
Robyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 




MOM WAS RIGHT: NICE GIRLS FINISH FIRST

happy couple in love

You don’t need to look far to witness beautiful women behaving badly; and, yes, many of them have found mates. But wouldn’t you prefer to attract a real man, someone who is proud to be your biggest fan and who can’t wait to bring you into his life for keeps?  It’s nice to know that the mom-approved behavior you learned years ago can help bring that sweetness into your life. Read full article on YourTango

HE WON'T PROPOSE... WHAT TO DO?

get him to propose faster

You want to get married, but he's in no rush. Don't let your insecurities ruin a good thing. Follow these 4 tips and you'll be walking down the aisle in no time. 

If you are a woman who is happily involved in an exclusive relationship, your thoughts have probably turned to marriage. This is understandable: for many people, the act of getting married is the ultimate expression of a couple’s love for one another.

The phase just before engagement can be one of the trickiest for a couple to navigate, however. If you have been dating for a year or more, you may feel that your guy should already be Instagramming ring ideas to your BFF. And though he may not show it, your boyfriend may be struggling with his own expectations and pressures as well.

Follow these 4 tips to ensure that you're moving in sync, and you and your man will build a solid foundation for your life together.  

1. Take a deep breath. Although you may have good reasons for wanting him to hurry up and propose already—a madly ticking biological clock, family pressures, or other very real concerns—practice stepping out of the “I want” mindset.  Many women come to me saying “I want a husband” or “I want to get married.” It may be helpful instead to say, “I am ready to become a wife” and fully embrace the major changes you will face when your wish becomes reality. In many religious traditions, marriage is viewed as a covenant with God or a spiritual union—a solemn undertaking indeed. Marriage is also a joining together of communities, forever altering your relationships with parents, children, relatives—even your friends. Appreciate that you stand at a momentous threshold, and choose to cross calmly and with intention.

2. Open your eyes to the truth within. I get many calls from women who want to get their boyfriends to propose, but as the conversation continues it becomes clear that the future groom has been MIA for several days or otherwise has a pattern of disrespecting the caller. Ladies, please take note: A man in love who has made the mental commitment to propose is very easy to spot. He may not specialize in fancy seduction moves, or shower you with diamonds and rose petals, but he respects you and is supportive, follows through on his promises to you, and makes sure you know where he is and who he is with. If your boyfriend is a triple-D (regularly disappoints, disrespects, and disappears) recognize that you are just his good-enough-for-now girl, not his future wife.

3. Embrace his perspective. Even when men and women face identical cultural pressures (such as marrying by a certain age or producing an auspicious number of offspring), men typically balance these expectations with practical considerations. Of course, if he is a junior attorney postponing engagement until he makes partner, that may be a red flag. But if he is waiting another 6 months so that he can receive a bonus, a promotion, or clear up some financial issues, consider yourself lucky to be in a relationship with a man who takes seriously his role as your future partner. The first year of marriage is one of the hardest, and addressing practical concerns in advance can be a wise move.

4. Create positive momentum. While your expectation may be that marriage is the inevitable next step in your relationship, your man may think that things are comfortable just as they are. A cozy holding pattern can set in when a couple is already living together, or otherwise treating each other like spouses without having made a formal commitment. In this case, someone has to rub two sticks together or the relationship may lose its sizzle before you have a chance to reach the altar.

  • Although you may think the solution is to confront your guy and detail all the ways in which he is not meeting your needs, he will hear this talk as an ultimatum, and its one-sidedness could cause him to pull back rather than opening up an honest exchange.
  • Instead, start creating your own positive momentum. Have you been avoiding the gym? Tomorrow, get up early and go. Have you fallen into a rut at work? Register for classes to help you transition to a new career. Start reconnecting with old friends. Dress and look your best at all times. If your guy loves you, he will take note of these changes. Just keep going with your positive energy and let things percolate. Over the next few months it will become clear whether your guy is willing to step up and join you, or if you will be moving forward solo.   

Waiting for him to propose may require more self-restraint than you think you can muster, especially if you are a woman who is used to making things happen in other areas of your life. But the proposal is an important way for a man to express his feelings for you. Accept this gift graciously, and you will both share a wonderful memory that will help sustain your connection throughout married life.

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

CHANGE YOUR LIFE, READ THE RULES BOOK

THE RULES BOOK

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

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

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

Dina: So tell us about “The Rules.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

over-40 dating tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 ESSENTIAL ONLINE DATING TIPS FOR WOMEN

BEST online dating tips for women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ICE.com

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

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

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

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

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

TIP#7: Ignore men with lazy opening lines. If all he can muster up is “hi” “ur hot” or ;-) just ignore him. Wait to receive a message that demonstrates a little more effort and interest in your profile, specifically. 

Default Banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

DATE LIKE A HOT MAMA, NOT A MOM

don't let maternal instincts get in the way

Maybe you are a single mom, struggling to transition into date mode after wiping little chins and helping with homework, or maybe you are generally an over-giving gal, used to supporting and encouraging everyone around you. Either way, maternal tendencies may be sabotaging your love life.... Read full article on YourTango.

DATING AFTER DIVORCE (6 TIPS FOR WOMEN)

dating after divorce tips for women

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

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

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

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

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

4.  FOCUS ON FITNESS. I include this tip in all my posts because it is so important for life-long happiness. Investing in your health and fitness level has a guaranteed return that will positively impact every area of your life. So join the best gym you can afford, and work out regularly with a personal trainer. You'll enjoy the added bonus of meeting men who also embrace a healthy lifestyle. 

5.  ADD SINGLE FEMALE FRIENDS TO YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK. The next time you're out-numbered at a singles event, make sure you circulate among the other women in the room. You never know—that new gal pal may have a brother or co-worker who would be perfect for you. Also, it will help you to have one or two single friends with whom you can go to events and fill up your social calendar. 

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

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

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.