Tuesday, December 21, 2010

4 Ideas for the Newly Single on Surviving New Year's Eve

Ah, New Year's Eve: A night of pressure to do something cool, pressure to have someone to kiss, and pressure to have a good time. The expectations we place on ourselves to do those three things with gusto often end up making NYE into a stress-bomb of epic proportions. And besides that, what do we do when we're newly single and all we feel like doing is hiding in our apartment with our cat and watching the ball drop on all the crazy people brave enough to hang out in the sub-zero temperature of Times Square? Here are five ideas for making NYE 2010 as low-pressure and as enjoyable as possible when we're fresh out of a breakup.

1) F*** it and stay in. Besides having to listen to all of the "OMG, the party I went to was sooooo awesome. You totally should have come!" comments for the first two weeks of January, ringing in the new year with a close friend or two, the cat, a bottle of champagne (or two) and the flat screen is a perfectly acceptable alternative to the huge and often over-priced parties your other friends are attending. Plus, if you don't feel like going out, you don't have to -- break-ups are tough to begin with, and NYE can be a tough night, regardless of how long it's been since your last relationship (or even if you're in a relationship). So F*** it -- stay in and veto the parties.

2) Have an Anti-NYE Party. Part of what makes NYE stressful is the aforementioned pressure to rage for a night. If that's not you or you just don't feel like it, put the feelers out to see if anyone else is feeling the same way (and there will most certainly be takers.) A low-key get-together with close friends, with no pressure to "party like it's 1999", can be a great alternative to both staying in and ignoring the night and forcing yourself into attending a huge party. Make everyone bring something to drink and something to eat, and there'll be nothing for you to worry about as the host/ess. Bonus: Give it a costume theme like ninjas versus zombies, and you'll be sure to have a good time.

3) If you want to go out, bring single friends. If the gigantic party calls to you but you don't want to get stuck sans a kissing partner at midnight, plan ahead and bring a bunch of single friends with you. Make sure that everyone meets in a pre-determined location at 10 minutes to midnight and then, at midnight, have a group hug/kiss.This takes the pressure away from either having to find a hot stranger or having to watch everyone around you make out when the clock strikes 12. Plus, you'll make everyone around you jealous of your happy cuddle-fest.

4) Mingle, mingle, mingle. NYE parties attract couples and groups of single friends alike, and so it's relatively easy to find other singles at a large party. Even if you're not ready to start dating again, it can be a fun challenge to bring an outgoing friend and talk to as many people as you can at the party. If you need a reason to talk to people, make up a series of "survey" questions to get the conversations started: "Hi - my friend and I are doing an informal survey. What's your favorite NYE memory?" You never know whom you might meet and interesting, fun and random conversations are guaranteed.

New Year's Eve can be a blast if we remove our expectations about what we think we should be doing -- something that's especially true for immediately after a break-up when we're still a bit raw and memory-filled. NYE is a night to celebrate the new and enjoy good company, so instead of focusing on the should, let's focus on what we want to do and what will make us happiest and vow to make this NYE as action-packed with new, fun-with-great-friend memories as possible.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bounceback.com, where I'm the dating expert, as well as on Yahoo! Shine.

Monday, December 13, 2010

4 Holiday Gift Exchange Landmines to Avoid in a New Relationship

Brand new romances are usually a hyperactive blend of overwhelming elation, insecurity and terrifying (what if we find something we don't like?) slash euphoric (OMG, they love that too?!) exploration of each other, especially when they're the first new thing we've had since a big relationship breakup. When you throw holiday gift exchanges into the mix, the hyperactivity can head straight into stress territory and turn a simple, enjoyable thing -- getting a gift for our new favorite person -- into a "what if?" fest of epic proportions. Here's a rundown of the top "what if"s and how to handle them and get through December with our sanity intact.

1) You find out you spent waaaaay more or less than them. Awkward for sure, and potentially embarrassing if you're the one who spent all the money, but ultimately, this is a chance to work through what is potentially your first conflict together. Since this is a new relationship, chances are good you don't know everything about their holiday patterns and traditions. If it's a case of differing traditions, enjoy each others' gifts and knowing something new about each other. In the future, if what happened this time around isn't OK with both of you, talk about any gift giving before it happens to discuss your expectations and figure out a solution you're both happy with. If the way more/way less situation is one where one of you feels uncomfortable, talk first, then try one of the following: try again, with rules about how much spend; say thanks, enjoy the gifts and vow to discuss the rules for next time; or scrap the gift exchange and just enjoy a night out together. This is supposed to be fun, so if one of you isn't comfortable, talk until you both are.

2) One of you gives, one of you doesn't. Awkward, but not insurmountable. Again - the reasons for giving or not giving may be due to tradition or culture. Talk about it and figure out what you want to do -- does the person who gave want to return it and then the two of you can enjoy a night out instead? Does the person who didn't give want a chance to return the favor?

3) Their gift is waaaaay more thoughtful than yours. It's not a competition, contrary to how it feels. Express your heartfelt appreciation for their thoughtfulness, and vow to do better next time. Gift giving in relationships is a learning process.

4) Your gift is something they hate. In relationships, the general consensus seems to be to pretend to enjoy gifts, no matter how we actually feel. However, if they missed that memo and are honest about how they feel (assuming they're very appreciative of the thought and aren't just being a jerk), talk through it and figure out why. Maybe your choice of golf lesson reminds them of their recently deceased father, or perhaps they don't wear a watch because they work somewhere where wearing jewelry is dangerous. If you've inadvertently screwed up, you can offer to try again. Some people are easy to find gifts for, and some aren't, and it can be very challenging to do well with someone we don't know very well. Don't beat yourself up about an honest mistake.

Having a pre-holiday pow-wow -- about your mutual expectations about gift exchange, how much or little you want to spend on each other (or whether you want to have a fancy date instead of gifts) -- although it may seem awkward to discuss, guarantees far less than the awkwardness of any of the above. Gift expectations (or lack thereof) can be a major landmine in relationships, long-term and new alike. Talking about it beforehand, especially in a new romance, can be a fun "get to know you" conversation as well as an extremely useful and healthy building block for whatever future the relationship may hold. And when we're cultivating a new relationship after working hard to bounce back from the old one, healthy, solid building blocks are very welcome.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bounceback.com, where I'm the dating expert, as well as on Yahoo! Shine.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dating Dish: Dateless to the Office Holiday Party?

This is the next installment of my monthly column, Dating Dish, for Girl Power HourDating Dish is a monthly feature that brings you hot dating tips and sassy how tos to keep your dating life sexy. Enjoy!

Dateless to the Office Holiday Party? 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dating Before Your Divorce Is Final: How to Break the News You're Not Officially Single Yet

As if getting a divorce isn't a big enough hurdle to get through, it can often take many months, even years, to finalize the paperwork. And when your paper divorce trails far behind your emotional divorce -- as in, you're dating again because you're completely over your ex, but your papers are still stuck in court -- it can create some awkward moments with your new dates. When do you tell them? How do you make it clear that you're completely committed to moving on, even though it's going to be another year before you have the official "I'm single" piece of paper?

Here are three tips to help you navigate those murky post-breakup, pre-officially-divorced waters:

1. When do you drop the news? Waiting until things get more serious can make it sound like you've been deliberately keeping a secret, which can put cracks in any trust that's begun to form between you and your new potential love. On the other hand, dropping the news 15 minutes into your first date with them can be really intense and awkward, as well as making a bigger deal out of it than need be. The best bet is to do it sometime during the second or third date, when you know that you actually like this person and could potentially see things going somewhere.

2. How do you tell them? The most organic way is to let them know if it comes up in conversation, i.e. if you're asked about your past relationships. There's no need to make a huge deal out of it: a simple "My ex-husband/wife and I ended things a couple years ago, and the divorce should be finalized in about six months," (or however long it's going to be), is all that's necessary. If the topic doesn't look like it's going to come up naturally, wait for a pause in the conversation, take their hands and say something like: "I like you, and I would definitely like to see if this goes somewhere. However, in the name of full disclosure, I should let you know that although I am completely single emotionally, I'm technically still married. The divorce papers are the courts right now, and should be finalized sometime in the next six months."

3. How do you make it clear things are OVER with your ex? If your new potential significant other has any misgivings about finding out you're still technically married, their insecurities will most likely come up in the days following your announcement. To prevent as much insecurity as possible, it can help immensely to give a very brief description of what happened ("The spark was gone and we decided it was better to go our separate ways," or "S/he was unfaithful, so we decided to end things,") plus an assurance that you've worked through what happened and are completely 100% ready to move forward. That way, they won't sit there, wonder what happened and fret over whether or not you're actually over it. Avoid diving fully into what happened: on only the second or third date, this is potentially TMI. But a short, sweet and non-angry description (if you're still actively and uncontrollably hurt or angry, you may have some more work to do to move completely through it) of what happened should help alleviate any fears your date may have.

Divorce and the requisite scars that the dissolution of a long-term relationship can leave behind can take a while to heal, and there's no "right way" or time-frame to move on. For some, the readiness to move forward and onward happens waaaaay before the divorce papers are finalized, and for others, it takes a little longer. Only we can tell when we're ready to find love again.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bounceback.com, where I'm the dating expert, as well as on Yahoo! Shine

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dating Dish: 5 First Date Awkward Bombs and How to Handle Them

This is the next installment of my monthly column, Dating Dish, for Girl Power HourDating Dish is a monthly feature that brings you hot dating tips and sassy how tos to keep your dating life sexy. Enjoy!

5 First Date Awkward Bombs and How to Handle Them

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Approach the Holidays With a New Significant Other in Your Life

When you've got a new somebody in your life after breaking up with an old somebody (especially if the old somebody was around for a while and became a fixture at your family events), the introduction of your new significant other to your family -- at events like Christmas -- has the potential to be awkward, stressful and filled with potential social landmines.

Here are five tips to avoid the most common bouts of awkwardness during the holidays:

1. Keep the pressure low. Meeting the parents is still just as big a deal as it was in high school, and can hold a lot of significance in relationships. That said, Thanksgiving is a great event to extend the invitation, because it's a holiday built around sharing food, company and having a good time. Friends come, there's always the last minute random whose plans fell through and joins in the joviality and it generally has a the-more-the-merrier vibe, which all contribute to keep the pressure of "meeting the family" lower than a Sunday dinner with your extended family where your date is the only newcomer.

2. Prep your new flame. When you're in a situation where the last few family holidays included your ex, it's important to give your new amour a heads up that although your family is great and will love her/him, s/he'll probably be the object of some curiosity and to expect to be popular, based purely on the fact that s/he is new in your life. To put them at ease, give them background information (including funny stories) on each of your family members and how everyone relates to each other as well as any relevant drama they might stumble into, so they're aware of who everyone is and what's going on. If there's a topic of conversation they should avoid (for example, any deaths in the family, recent or otherwise, so that they don't ask where someone is and feel awful for bringing it up), let them know, but otherwise don't stress about what to or not to talk about -- you like your new signifiant other, and your family will too.

3. Prep your family. Suddenly showing up with someone new when you've had the same date for the last four years to all family functions is a great way to create some really awkward conversations during dinner. It's far better is to prep your family members beforehand that you'll be bringing a new date, that you're very happy with this new person, and you'd appreciate their full acceptance of them as well as any avoidance of discussion of your ex, your break-up and/or any conversations that compare your new flame to your ex over the sweet potatoes.

4. Control the conversation. Despite your prepping, your great aunt Betty asks you point blank what happened to that "nice girl/boy" who came to last year's holiday dinner. This is so awkward it will be entertaining in retrospect, but at the time, say that things didn't work out with your ex, that you're now very happy and with your current date and change the subject to something Great Aunt Betty loves to talk about, like her upcoming cruise to Mexico.

5. Smile and change the subject. After dinner and after too much Pinot Noir, your various family members open the floodgates of awkwardness with questions about everything you asked them to avoid. Try to remember that your family loves you and they just want to you be happy, and any probing and awkward questions they ask are a function of that. Control the conversation as best you can by changing the subject and asking about them and their lives. For example, let's say you and your ex used to love to go antique shopping together and it was always a great topic of conversation at previous family get-togethers. If you get an awkward question like, "Does s/he like to antique with you like [your ex's name] did?", you can reply with something like, "[Your date's name] loves to sail, and so we've been spending a lot of time doing that. Uncle Bob, I know you windsurf. Have you been out on the water much recently? It's been beautiful."

Part of moving forward and bouncing back after a break-up is dating again, and eventually, the time comes to introduce a new significant other to your family. There are bound to be some bumps along the way to fitting this new person completely in your life, because change is challenging and if your previous relationship was a long one, there can be a lot of inertia for your family to get through. However, ultimately your goal is to be happy, and if this new person makes you happy, your family will come around, even if they inadvertently make it awkward in the process. And isn't that one of the things that makes family great?

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bounceback.com, where I'm the dating expert, as well as on Yahoo! Shine.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How to Handle Awkward Questions About Your Love Life (or Lack Thereof)

When things fizzle in a relationship, there's a step after the actual parting of ways that can seem like cruel and unusual punishment: having to tell everyone that our relationship status has changed. Relaying the news to our inner circles is usually fairly painless, but if our relationship was a long one and especially if shared family holidays and work parties were involved, the post break-up aftermath can seem never-ending and a particularly hellish form of torture. Well meaning friends, co-workers and family members all want to know what happened, want to give us advice and sometimes seem hell-bent on setting us up immediately with their neighbor's best friend's cousin's son/daughter. 

When the absolute last thing we want to do is rehash what happened and jump into something new, how do we navigate this social mine-field without alienating people and coming across like a hot mess when we freak out when asked one question too many?

1) Keep your cool. Even though it royally sucks to have to field questions about what happened (especially when you JUST managed to not think about your ex every five minutes), most of the people you ask said questions mean well and care about you. Plaster a smile on your face, assure them you're fine and that things just "didn't work out."

2) Change the subject. When dealing with a socially sensitive questioner, sometimes a simple change of subject can be enough to dissuade any further discussion on the topic: "Nope - I'm not really dating anyone special. So - how about that game last night?"

3) Control the conversation. Even though the questions are directed at you, an easy trick to deflect the attention and move into new (less annoying and painful) territory is to give a short answer to their question, and then turn the questions on them: "I'm doing great, thanks - and how are you and Robert doing? Where are you going on vacation this year?" Hopefully they'll be so distracted talking about their vacation plans, they'll forget to focus on you.

4) If they persist, be firm. Your break-up is no one's business but yours, and you are perfectly within your right to not talk about it if you don't want to. When dealing with a more pushy questioner who won't drop the subject, despite your attempts to talk about something else, sometimes a firmer hand is required: "I appreciate your concern, but I'd really rather not talk about this anymore. Why don't you tell me about your new project at work?"

5) If all else fails, walk away. Finding an excuse to leave the conversation is a perfectly acceptable response to being grilled about what happened between you and your ex. Simply say "Excuse me, but I just saw my friend walk in the door / need another drink / need to use the bathroom" and bail.

Although the conversations about your well-being will be frequent and numerous at first, they'll mercifully die out quickly as word gets around. There will always be the family members who ask you point blank why you haven't found someone yet over the marshmallow roasted sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner, but hopefully those conversational gems are few and far between and can be viewed as humorous rather than bringing up a whole boatload of memories you're trying to bounce back from -- as is the case right after a break-up.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bouncebacktolife.com, where I'm the dating expert.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

5 Party Mingling Don'ts

Parties, depending on how social we're feeling on a particular day, are either something to be looked forward to and enjoyed with a "Best. Night. Ever" fervor, or are social nightmares to be dreaded and may cause psychosomatic flu-like symptoms hours before the event, keeping us (happily) contained to our couches watching re-runs of Sex and the City. No matter where we fall on this scale, we all have good days and bad days. After attending a party a couple weeks ago where all of the following five "don'ts" occurred more than once, here are some basic tips to (hopefully) make the upcoming party season as un-nightmarish and "Best. Night. Ever," as possible.

1) Avoid being a personal space invader. Sometimes, when we're in a small space with a lot of people, it's impossible not to get too close -- and that's fine. The forced invasion of personal space even provides something to joke and laugh about. But when there's plenty of room and someone gets thisclose (and they're not your best friend or significant other), it's very uncool. Culturally, personal space can vary, but a good rule of thumb is between a two and three feet away when you're having a conversation with someone at a party.

2) Don't be "That Girl/Guy" at the party. Whether it be alcohol or something more in the illegal realm, getting wasted to the point of blacking out or being out of control is rarely cool, especially when the person in question keeps swearing that they're not, in fact, over their limit.

3) Don't be a conversation hogger. Meeting new people is one of the best things about attending a party. Sometimes you can walk away with a new BFF, date and/or a giant pile of warm fuzzy feelings from an enjoyable night with awesome people. And sometimes, you can get stuck in a truly cringe-inducing conversation, where the other person is talking just to hear the sound of their own voice and although is asking you questions, isn't listening to a word you say. Nothing kills a conversation faster than having the person you're talking to ask you the same question multiple times because they weren't paying attention.

4) Avoid double dipping in mixed company. Going for the hummus, guacamole or delicious seven layered bean dip with the chip you just took a bite out of may be cool around your closest pals, but doing it at a party where you don't know everyone is not advised, for obvious reasons.

5) Don't gossip. Parties are great places for overhearing (read eavesdropping), and when you don't know everyone there, it's waaaaay to easy to get caught saying something you probably shouldn't be saying and having the person you're discussing find out. It's also a good idea to keep your (negative) opinions about the other party-goers to yourself -- you never know who might know the person you're talking about. Sticking to the old "Don't say anything if you don't have something nice to say," is a solid plan.

Potholes like the above are easy to avoid once we're aware of them (or have been guilty of them and felt moronic enough afterwards to avoid repeating the mistake). Even on those shy or "I don't want to go out" days, pulling together a good attitude about party-going and being social will make a huge difference as to whether or not the experience will rock . Parties are fantastic places to meet new people, make new connections and have a great time -- especially if we're enjoying the single life. Every cool new person we meet is going to know other cool people they can introduce us to, drastically widening our social circles and hugely upping the odds of finding our next date.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bouncebacktolife.com, where I'm the dating expert.

Monday, November 1, 2010

365/24/7 Halloween

Halloween is my favorite holiday, as it is for a lot of people. Besides the spooky factor, the candy and the ubiquitous availability of pumpkin lattes, it’s a night (or day, or weekend) that gives us all a pass to be anyone we want. We can show off our cleverness with a costume that makes everyone around us think “Why didn’t I think of that?” and we have full freedom to insert “Slutty” in front of almost any costume, wear as little as possible and get away with it, because it’s not only expected — it’s welcomed and applauded.

Why don’t we do this more often?

This freedom feels fantastic, and I think the vast majority of us would agree that that’s why Halloween rocks. But why should we only get to take a hit of it one or two nights a year (like this year -- yeah!)? This post serves as a call to happiness to encourage us to have costume parties year-round; to remember that being ourselves (whether that self channels Slutty Red-Riding Hood, Donatello the TMNT or The Situation) is something we should focus on, nurture and fully enjoy; and to live in a constant state of non-judgment — is there a non-judgier night than Halloween?

Yours in preserving the trick or treat spirit, S 

Originally published on the PickV.com blog (a new dating site that matches people based on music, movies and book likes and dislikes), where I am the weekly love/relationships contributor.

(Image by greyloch)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another 5 Don'ts for the First Date After Divorce

Divorce sucks. Even if it's ultra-friendly and mutual, it's still a situation we wouldn't wish on our most memorable high-school nemesis. There are all sorts of feelings we have to deal with afterwards: grief, frustration, low-self esteem, guilt, confusion, anger (plus about a hundred more over the course of recovery! When we're healed enough to dive back into the dating scene, a lot of those feelings still linger, and because the first date back and the process of getting to know new people in a romantic setting is part of bouncing back, it can be a very bumpy road. In a series of fifteen tips on how to deal with the First Date, here are the last five Don'ts to help keep that road as smooth as possible.

1) Don't stress if you find yourself acting totally weird. Be honest and laugh it off: "I'm sorry -- that was weird. I just started dating again after my divorce last year, and I'm afraid I'm a little nervous." Laying your cards out on the table can often release tension and make the night fun. Although it's perhaps not ideal to announce you're freshly divorced (your date may wonder if they're a rebound), letting them know you're nervous is flattering for them, and unless they're really not feeling it, being honest and making yourself a bit vulnerable by revealing what's really going on will definitely break the ice. Note: Make sure the conversation steers away from divorce and your past relationship after your explanation -- a simple "It just wasn't meant to be" will suffice if they ask what happened.

Even after all the mental pep-talks, you're still freaking out. Don't worry. If small talk makes you sweat and you feel like you're not going to have anything to say, prepare ahead of time. Sit down the day or week before and make an exhaustive list of everything you can think of that's interesting to you: places you've visited, things you're interested in (art, wine, cars, design, sports, etc.), your dreams, your job, your kids; and then make a cheat sheet to put in your pocket or purse. If, halfway through the date, you find yourself struggling for things to talk about, go to the bathroom and look at your list. Hopefully it will refresh your memory and give you conversational fodder for at least another 30 minutes.

3) Don't freak out if you clam up and can't think of anything to say. Instead, listen to your date talk. People LOVE to be listened to -- it's flattering to have that much attention paid to you. If you're just not feeling like talking (because you're nervous or you need a bit more time to get out of your shell), be the question instigator instead of the person on the receiving end. By asking interesting, open-ended questions (What's your dream vacation? Where would you most want to live if you could live anywhere? Dream job?), you can keep up the listening for quite a while, which will hopefully be enough time for you to get comfortable.

4) Don't stick around if there's no connection. It's OK to bail. There's no law that says you need to suffer through three hours of an awful date. It's a great idea to make the first part of the date drinks or coffee-based (which should take about 20 minutes if it's bad, and however long you want if it's good), and then only suggest dinner if things go well. That way, if things suck and you're just not feeling it, you can bail after the drinks (by saying you have other plans) and your date is none the wiser.

5) Don't overdo it on the Pinot Noir. It can be very tempting to imbibe more than usual in a potentially uncomfortable situation (like a first date after a disastrous break-up.) However, drinking to the point of lowered inhibitions seldom turns out as well as we would hope. Drinking heavily has the nasty side effect of magnifying whatever emotions we were feeling before we had one too many, and when we're in a situation where emotions are high, this can be a recipe for disaster (venting about your ex to your unsuspecting first date is not advised). Know your limit and take care not to overdo it (as tempting as the liquid courage may be.)

Because the First Date is a natural part of the healing and bouncing back process, it's a good time to be a little selfish and focus on you -- how you're feeling, whether or not you're ready, and if this is what you want to be doing right now. There's no "right time" or "should" in bouncing back from divorce. It's an at-your-own-pace sort of situation. The First Date is pretty much always going to be a little scary, a lot nerve-wracking and somewhat bumpy, so take your time, enjoy the ride and don't worry if a break is needed every now and again to take stock and figure out if you're still on the right road.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bouncebacktolife.com, where I'm the dating expert.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flying Solo = Win

Think about the last time you fell into one of those random but awesome conversations with someone: maybe it was at the coffee shop, the bookstore, at the farmer’s market or at happy hour. Chances are good that both you and the random-conversation-someone were both cruising solo (or at least were temporarily separated from your respective groups.)

This is because it’s waaaaaaaaay easier to talk to people when they’re not surrounded by a huge group of their fifteen closest friends (or even just plus one or two). And while your new crush hanging in a large group is not an insurmountable challenge, it’s a hell of lot easier to engineer a “random” conversation with them when they’re separated or are by themselves. Conversation itself is a lot less intimidating when it’s one on one, versus trying to engage two or three or ten other people at the same time, and most of us are far more comfortable with random conversation with attractive people we don’t know when there’s just one of them.

So, in the interest of making it easier for those who may want to talk to you, consider flying solo the next time you want to be out and about. Or, if that seems totally crazy, separate yourself from the peeps for a while the next time you’re out with them and give the 98% of the population who shudders at the thought of approaching a large group a chance to talk to you. Friends rock for lots of reasons, but can unfortunately act as a giant deflector shield when there’s someone cute who wants to talk to you.

Coffee shops, bookstores, farmer’s markets, happy hours, concerts, festivals — all are great places to meet cool people without deviating from your normal going-out patterns. And snagging another microbrew, latte or giving in to your truly epic need to continue the search for the perfect kumquat are all great excuses to be on your own for a bit (and make yourself available to awesome conversation with attractive people you don’t know yet).

Yours in random awesomeness, S

Originally published on the PickV.com blog (a new dating site that matches people based on music, movies and book likes and dislikes), where I am the weekly love/relationships contributor.

(Image by:
John Althouse Cohen)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dating Dish: Don't Wait, Initiate - How to Make the First Move

This is the next installment of my monthly column, Dating Dish, for Girl Power HourDating Dish is a monthly feature that brings you hot dating tips and sassy how tos to keep your dating life sexy. Enjoy!

Don't Wait, Initiate - How to Make the First Move

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why Coffee Shops Rock

I have a theory: Coffee shops may be the new bars, in terms of finding your next date. My job requires me to write for several hours a day, and so coffee shops are my office. There are lots of others who also call my office their office, both during the daylight hours and at night. My favorite coffee shop has several community tables, and conversation abounds when we get bored (which happens quite frequently). Because we’re all usually by ourselves, it’s ridiculously easy to start (or join in) a conversation with those in the vicinity, also clicking away at their variously branded laptops. Even on those days when I’m occupying my own table, there are always people within two or three feet of me at other tables, so it’s an equally talkative situation.

The conversations are random, and usually quite entertaining. Today, for example, I got into a conversation about the merits of pedicures with two guys, one of whom swore by the weekly pedicure as the most relaxing two hours he spends every week and was trying to convince his (doubtful) friend to jump on the bandwagon. I want to know where he’s getting a two-hour pedicure, and also am now very curious about what percentage of the male population has their feet groomed on a semi-regular basis. Entertaining, interesting and random = awesome.

Everyone is friendly, and because coffee shops are not (yet) labeled as meat markets where we actively troll for dates, people are open to conversation and usually quite happy to talk. Friendly atmospheres are conducive to making connections more than sexy atmospheres, because there’s no pressure — after all, we’re not immediately judging one another by how hot we find the other person, but rather by what they say and how we interact. This is so much easier, comfortable and less intense than trying to talk to people in bars. There’s no need for elaborate pick-up techniques in coffee shops either — complimenting someone on their choice of witty t-shirt is more than enough to start a fun conversation. Win.

While I’m on the subject, I do have one minor question to throw out into the universe about the ambient temperatures of coffee shops across the world: I know that some coffee places don’t enjoy us freelancers hogging their tables all day (and I try to be sensitive to the vibe of a place before I settle in for a few hours), but is it really necessary to keep the interior temperature at an icy 60-65 F? My hands are turning blue as I write this…

Yours in rice milk chai lattes, the occasional americano and witty conversation, S

Originally published on the PickV.com blog (a new dating site that matches people based on music, movies and book likes and dislikes), where I am the weekly love/relationships contributor.

Photo Credit:
Ballistik Coffee Boy

Monday, September 20, 2010

Anniversary Determination

For the coupled up who aren’t married, what event marks the beginning of our relationships (and the date of which determines our anniversaries)? Is it the first date? The first sexual encounter? The DTR talk ? The first “I love you” day? If you were friends or knew each other for a period of time before you actually started dating, do you count your anniversary as the day you met, especially if sparks flew and you knew you liked that person, even if circumstances prevented you from making a move? Is it the day you first hooked up? The first official romantic, non-friend date? The day you admit your feelings for each other? 

In my informal conversations with people, it appears that the most common way the anniversary date is determined is to retroactively use the date of the first romantic date, after the DTR has occurred. This makes sense: if you were to use the first date as the anniversary marker prior to any DTRing, the chances of totally freaking out your date by celebrating your “anniversary” of your “relationship” with them are pretty high. After all, I think most would agree that anniversary (in a romantic situation), implies that both parties are fully aware of what’s being celebrated — when it’s one-sided, it’s obsession or stalking.

Another benefit of using the first date (retroactively) as the determination of the anniversary, assuming the DTR happens about three weeks to a month into dating, is that you automatically get to add a month or so to your coupledom. This gives you street cred with other couples and at parties, since the question of “How long have you guys been together” is always one of the first things asked, is one of those questions we use to measure each other up when we’re getting to know one another and the answer to which lets the questioning party assume volumes about you: how solid are you as a couple, how well do you know each other, how serious it is and, how likely it is to last.

In the beginning of a relationship, each month together marks an exciting milestone and an accomplishment, since so many things fizzle after just a short time. Recognizing each month you still like each other and want to be together is a big deal and is cause for celebration, whatever event you choose to mark the beginning. 

Yours in anniversarating, S

Originally published on the PickV.com blog (a new dating site that matches people based on music, movies and book likes and dislikes), where I am the weekly love/relationships contributor.

Credits: Image by

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dating Dish: You Don't Need a Plus One to Have Fun

This is the next installment of my monthly column, Dating Dish, for Girl Power HourDating Dish is a monthly feature that brings you hot dating tips and sassy how tos to keep your dating life sexy. Enjoy!

You Don't Need a Plus One to Have Fun

It's National Singles' Week...and Being Single Rocks

(As published on Yahoo! Shine on September 20th, 2010.)

This week is National Singles' Week, and when you're recovering from a relationship breakup, no matter if it happened two weeks or two years ago, it's really important to be single for a while and get to know this new you. Each time we have a relationship and open our hearts to someone else (freakish pinky toes and all), we grow as people and hopefully learn a bit more about ourselves. Each relationship is different, so while it's unlikely the lessons we took away from our last relationship will directly apply to the next one, a lifetime of loving, losing and moving on are all integral parts of life and our development as people.

So, when we're in the recovery phase (past the pity parties, but not quite ready to open up again), it's a wonderful opportunity to have an absolutely fabulous time and enjoy the hell out of life. Whether we're flying solo by way of the road of recovery from a break-up, or just haven't met someone special enough to merit coupledom yet, when we find ourselves in the glorious land of singledom, it is a time to be cherished, savored and enjoyed. Here are ten reasons why being unattached rocks.

1) More free time. New relationships are a major time-suck. Hobbies, laundry, working out and the gloriousness of having a whole afternoon ahead of you with no plans beyond lazing around with your dog at the park with a good book can often be overlooked.

2) You get to fall in love again! There is nothing like falling in love -- it's fun, exciting and makes you feel like you've got a sunbeam filled with rainbows, unicorns and butterflies following you around everyday. When you're single, each new person you meet is has potential to be the next person you fall in love with. How exciting is that?

3) Your time is yours. When you're part of a couple, it's considerate and pretty normal to check in with your significant other to see what they're doing and if they want to join you in what you're planning on doing. When you're single, you're free to do what you want, when you want and how you want, without any need to run your plans by anyone else.

4) You can be weird and no one knows about it. We all have little weird behaviors that make us happy that we mostly likely put a lid on when we're around other people. Feel like letting your mild OCD run rampant as you alphabetize your bookshelf? Love spending three hours trying on make-up and experimenting? Want to dance naked around your apartment listening to Lady Gaga? Want to watch 18 episodes in a row of Gossip Girl? Go for it.

5) If you're back to living by yourself, you can decorate according to your tastes alone - there's no need to cooperate, coordinate, consult or compromise with anyone else, which means that paisley print couch you've been keeping in storage for the last five years can make a grand appearance once again.

6) You can vacation wherever you want. Vacationing is one of those things that people have strong preferences on, especially when we only get two weeks off a year. When those preferences don't match up, things can get complicated. When you're single, there's no complication. This is a great time to be selfish and take the vacation you've always wanted. Costa Rica for a week with the college peeps coming right up!

7) You're free to flirt. Let those random conversations with hot strangers turn into a date and see where it goes. Relationships (usually) mean you've made a conscious choice to be with that person and that person alone. That cute someone you see every Saturday morning at yoga is now no longer off limits. Enjoy.

8) You can hang out with your friends more. Truth: being part of a couple means less time for friends. So make up for lost time and start making more awesome memories.

9) Your friends will invite you out more. Single friends are usually more available socially than coupled up ones, so bask in the glory of being everyone's first choice to come hang out and prepare for some amazingly random nights.

10) First dates! First dates have so much potential -- both to go badly and to go well. If they totally bomb and your date is a freak, you've got a great story to tell your friends (who are probably living vicariously through your raging social life), and if the date goes well? Bring on the happy, this-has-potential-butterflies.

There are aspects about both sides -- coupled up or not -- that have pluses and minuses. That said, instead of focusing on what we might not have at the moment or the negatives we may feel about no longer being one half of a couple, focus on all the good things about being single. Enjoy each day as fully as possible, spend a ton of time with great friends, laugh, and rock this period of time when we're completely unattached and free to do what we want. Bouncing back is all about finding happiness in our new lives, and being single, focusing on whatever whim strikes us and enjoying our friends is a major part of that healing process.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bouncebacktolife.com, where I'm the dating expert.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friends First

When trying to figure out if those you meet online, in person and at Jimmy’s rager of a party last weekend are long-term relationship compatible, one question that I think gets overlooked in the “Definitely” vs. “Not sure” debate is whether or not you would be friends with this person if you took away the sexual component of your relationship.

Do they make you laugh? Do they get you? Do you have a good time with them? Are you comfortable around them?Can you talk to them?Do they have your back?

Don’t get me wrong: sexual chemistry is extremely important in a relationship and is something deserving of major consideration when determining compatibility and, if things go well, exclusivity. But having someone to hang with that you dig as a person as well as wanting to rip their clothes off? That’s awesome.

When in the dating game, we’re often faced with so many different packages of personality, looks, likes/dislikes, sense of humor, dreams/goals and hobbies, that it becomes overwhelming. It’s such a challenge to sort through and figure out who, if any, of the people we’re currently dating, hoping to date or looking for are right for us. As a result, we look to sexual chemistry to guide us because it’s easy. You KNOW when you think someone is attractive. It doesn’t require deep, introspective thought. However, great chemistry can be overwhelming, hard to see through and blind us to anything but sex. Plus, finding the perfect person(s) for each one of us is a challenge, and it’s incredibly enriching and a helpful to date people who are not entirely right for us so that we can better figure out what is right for us. We learn a tremendous amount about ourselves and how to navigate a relationship each time we have one.

However, letting our decisions about relationships be guided solely by great chemistry can make it difficult to see the whole picture and, more often than not, if we chase only the sex and don’t think about whether or not the person in question is fun to hang with when we’re not having sex with them, making it long-term can be challenging. My point is that when we’re over being involved in things that don’t work out and we’re serious about searching for our next big relationship, it’s worth it to take a minute and figure out whether or not this person has potential as both a friend and as someone who frequently pushes our sexual chemistry buttons.

Yours in BFFs (with benefits), S

Credits: Image by pedrosimoes7

Originally published on the
PickV.com blog (a new dating site that matches people based on music, movies and book likes and dislikes) on September 6, 2010, where I am the weekly love/relationships contributor.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Want to meet someone? Leave the house.

A total “duh” answer, I know, so bear with me: this is one that crops up again and again even among those of us who swear we go out ALL THE TIME. Lethargy, feeling disenchanted with the whole dating scene and being just plain tired of trying, all sit securely in the “there’s no point, so why try” cheering camp. Before we know it, we’ve spent both weekend days inside our apartments — reorganizing the closet and/or spice rack, playing video games or just chilling in our own company. And the days? The days are when it happens. People are more low-key and relaxed during the day and so it’s much easier to have those awesome, random conversations that can turn into more than just “that fun guy/girl I met in the coffee shop/bookstore/park.”

Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with a little self-imposed hibernation now and again. If anything, it’s needed and healthy to take a staycation from our lives and put aside some time to do that weird stuff that occupies our time when we live alone (or at least have our own room in a shared house). However, staying in ALL the time is bad news for our love lives because unfortunately, rarely is the pizza or sushi delivery guy or gal as sexy (and willing and available) as we dream them to be (or as they always seem to be in porn).

The excuses for not leaving the house are plentiful and easy to come by, largely because it’s must easier to chill at home in our Snuggies or Slankets than it is to get dressed, find a reason to leave and go out. The next time they try to seduce you into yet another Project Runway marathon, give these excuses the finger. Weekend morning coffee drinker? Bring a book or your favorite newspaper and go sit at your local coffee shop for a couple hours on Sunday. Bored? Peruse a bookstore or check out that new art gallery down the street. It’s not necessary to have a point every time we go out — we can simply be out for the sake of being out, and for the sake of interacting with other breathing, warm-bodied (hopefully attractive and cool) fellow humans. And if the peeps aren’t available? Go without them. Being out by yourself is a fantastic way to make new friends, and who knows — you might just meet your next date.

Yours in avoiding spice-rack organization, S

Photo Credit: Infrogmation

Originally published on the PickV.com blog (a new dating site that matches people based on music, movies and book likes and dislikes), where I am the weekly love/relationships contributor.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

5 More Don'ts for the First Date After Divorce

With the recent release of Eat, Pray, Love, a movie about bouncing back after a series of breakups, self-discovery and self-growth, many of us have started fantasizing about going to Italy, India and Indonesia as well. The story is one of finding happiness, finding yourself and then finding love -- a beautiful tale and one that I'm pretty sure we all aspire to. Somewhere along that road, however, comes the First Date -- that momentous day when you go on your first date after a big breakup. Here are the second five of fifteen tips to make the First Date a little easier.

1) Be yourself. When you've been with someone for a long time, it's hard to remember what it's like to be by yourself. Relationships affect us in countless ways, and every new person we become close with teaches us something about them, about us, and about how we interact with others. As a result, "being yourself" after a breakup is challenging, because you probably don't know this new you that well. This limbo period makes us vulnerable to acting how we think others want us to act. Resist this and do your best to be you -- incenserity, no matter how well meant, is a turn-off.

2) Move at your own pace. The first date after a breakup is a big deal and it's easy to get pushed at a pace faster than you're perhaps ready for. Even if you feel great about this new person, making a concious effort to move slowly so that a real connection develops can do wonders to make the whole new relationship thing a lot more comfortable. It's scary letting someone else in after a traumatic situaiton like divorce, so give yourself a break and let things develop as they will -- don't pressure yourself into doing or being in something you're not ready for.

3) Expect awkwardness. It's going to be slightly awkward, so spend zero time stressing about that aspect of it. The first date back is usually after a long hiatus from the world of flirty small talk, and it's totally natural to be a bit rusty. If you can, enjoy the awkwardness -- it can be an ice-breaker if you can find a way to laugh about it.

4) Don't worry about what they think. Emotional confidence can be at its lowest after a breakup, and going on a date again will absolutely make you think of your last relationship, no matter how much progress you've made on the recovery road. Having an unexpected reminder of the very thing you're trying to move on from can be a bummer and a confidence suck. Ignore it and remember that the person you're on the date with wants to be there. It wouldn't be happening if they didn't.

5) It's totally fine if the date bombs. If things jump on the bullet train to hell on your long-anticipated date, don't worry about it. It happens. We're not compatible with everyone we meet. Plus, once you're through the first date, you won't have to have the "first date after divorce' again. From then on you'll just be dating.

Divorce and breakups can do a number on our emotional well-being and confidence and it's so important to remember to let yourself recover at your own pace and not worry about the "should"s: I should be dating again, I should be over it, I should be totally fine. Try not to stress about the date and enjoy getting to know someone new. If the date is fun, fantastic. If not, now you've gotten through the worst of it -- the first date back.

Originally published by BounceBack, LLC on www.bouncebacktolife.com, where I'm the dating expert.