Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Escaping the “Friend” Zone

Falling for a friend is complicated, especially when that friend is a friend who frequently reminds us what a great friend we are to them, and how glad they are that we’re friends. It’s common knowledge that things could get very awkward and even end in social catastrophe if the attempt to nudge that friend from “friends” to “more-than-friends” goes badly — and nobody wants to deal with that. But what if this person is perfect for you and to not pursue them would be doing yourself and your love life an incredible disservice? Here’s how to broach the subject of romance without destroying your friendship in the process.

Your friend will fall into one of three categories:
1.They secretly already dig you.
2. They’ve noticed you, but don’t want to ruin your friendship if it goes badly so they’ve abstained from making a move.
3. They don’t like you “like that”.

The first two situations are great, and you have a big chance of a successful transfer from “friends” to “more-than-friends.” The last situation is probably not redeemable, but at least you’ll know where they stand and you can move on. The most important thing to remember is to be mature, no matter the outcome. This will save your friendship from imploding under the pressure of awkwardness if things don’t go as planned.

Your first order of business (no matter which category you think your friend might be in) is to introduce one-on-one time with your friend, to show them how cool it is to spend time alone with you and get them to think of you as more than just “that guy/girl in my group of friends”. The next time your crew hangs out, ask your friend to take a walk and talk through something with them: something that’s bugging you at work, what to get your brother/sister for their birthday, etc. Asking for advice is a perfect cover for getting them alone. Then, segue the conversation into something funny that’s happened to you recently so that you can laugh together. This builds rapport. Don’t flirt with your friend just yet — you want to give them time to adjust their view of you to more-than-a-friend without being forced to make a decision right away.

Once you’ve had a couple of one-on-one sessions with them, bump things up a notch and invite your friend to something where you “need a date”, and would they “do you a favor by being your plus one?” It’s a lot less intense and beneficial to your slow movement from friend to more by putting them in the position of doing you a favor versus the obvious, I’m-really-into-you dinner invitation. Introduce a little flirting, but don’t go over the top. Your point is to show them how good a time you have together.

Two or three days after your “date”, email or call them and combine “I had a great time” with “will you be my plus one again so I can try this new bar/coffee-shop/breakfast place I heard about?” You’re still keeping it low-key so that if they don’t like you back, the pressure is reduced. By this point, unless they’re completely clueless, they’ll have figured out your intentions. If they fall into the first two categories (already like you or noticed you but didn’t want to ruin it), they’ll be pleased and will probably flirt like crazy to let you know they’re into your advances. Goal attained.

If, however, they’re not into you, at this point they’ll let you know they’re not interested. If you respond in a mature manner, there won’t be any negative fall-out and they’ll respect that you aren’t making it awkward and weird for your friendship: “I admit I think you’re great and really hot, but I respect your feelings so consider it dropped. I’d love to keep hanging out as friends — you’re really fun.” Now you know where they stand and you can move on to your hot co-worker.

Yours in avoiding awkwardness, S

Originally published on the 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.

Monday, April 26, 2010

He Notices When I Notice. Help!

Q: I've just finished your book and I need to know how I can apply your techniques to my current situation. There is this guy at my job that I think is cute and I'm interested in but given the fact that we work together and he's kind of quiet, I'm not sure how to do the whole "non-approach" approach that you discussed throughout your book. To make matters worse, a couple of times when he got a hair cut I complimented him and told him he looked nice (including today); he usually just says "thank you" but today he said "you always notice." So, now he notices when I notice his haircuts (to be fair to myself, I notice everyone's new hairstyle/cut---I'm an observant person). Is it too late to put your techniques into effect? Can this situation be redeemed? Can I gain the upper hand? Help! - Stephanie

A: The situation is definitely redeemable. I would take his noticing you noticing him a positive, actually. It's flattering to have someone notice small changes in your appearance, and he wouldn't have said anything if he wasn't flattered (regardless of what he sounded like when he said it). I would make a point of letting him hear you compliment someone else on a change in their appearance to let it be known that he's not the only one you pay attention to. This will put you on neutral ground again, if you're not already doing this.

Then, I would go into one of the more chatty openers the next time it's appropriate - maybe when he's waiting for the elevator, or at lunch. My suggestion is to pretend to get a voicemail from your friend at the exact moment you're near him, and then say, "Can I ask you a quick question? My girlfriends and I need a guy opinion. My friend Julie went out with this guy last week, they had a great time, and he just called her and said "See you around". What does that mean, in guy-speak? Is he interested?" Keep it low-key, kind of funny and cool. Make sure it's clear you didn't seek him out to ask the question, but rather he just "happened" to be the guy closest to you when you had a guy question. From there, you can morph into "What are you up to this weekend" talk to establish a connection with him. Since he's shy, he may not take the bait and ask you out, so you could organize a small-ish group to go to happy hour after work sometime soon and invite him. Once he's there (out of the work environment), you can start to flirt a bit. I bet he'll respond.

Good luck! I hope it goes well.

If you have a question, feel free to email me at I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stand Out From The Crowd and Get a Reply

Online dating can be fun, it can blow, and it can fall somewhere in between — all depending on how often your carefully crafted emails receive replies. Here are some tips to up that percentage and make every time you log onto your dating account a positive experience.

- Be honest on your profile. If you’re a grand-master King in your local LARP-ing league, shout it out. If you’re looking for someone to volunteer with at the local animal shelter and keep things casual, spell it out. If you’re ready to get married within the next 60 days and you’re desperately seeking a fellow Jimmy Buffet fan who loves piƱa coladas, hates yoga and loves getting caught in the rain, make it known. Passion and authenticity are sexy. Plus, the more honest and interesting you are, the more reason you give someone to email you.

Be original with your subject lines. Avoid the standard “Hi”, “What’s up?” or “You’re hot.” These are a dime a dozen in in-boxes and in all likelihood, won’t get a click. We’re all looking for that interesting, funny, awesome person to spend time with, and interesting, funny, awesome people don’t say “‘Sup” in their subject lines. For example, one of the best subject lines I’ve seen in my dating inbox is “Synesthete seeking mango-hater”. I’m deathly allergic to mangoes so clearly he’d read my profile (always a plus), and the synesthesia thing was an interesting, stand-out angle.

Use awesome pictures. The goal is to come up with 5-7 pictures of you that illustrate your life, including at least one close-up one that shows off your handsomeness to the max. You’ve got a great dog? Give Fido some love and use a picture of you two together — the happier-looking the better. Love going to costume parties? Post your favorite trekkie themed party picture of you and your five closest friends (being sure to point out which one is you, of course). The point is, when potential dates are stalking you checking out your profile to see what information they can glean about how normal you are, the more information you can give them to prove you’re a functional, friendly human being, the better. One caveat - avoid pictures with just you and your ex. Not only will this cause a flurry of questioning on the part of the person looking at your profile (Is he over her?), but you’re on the dating site to move forward and meet new people, not show off how hot your ex was.

Bottom line, use your profile as a tool to give the best, most honest picture of you as possible. If your top three bands are Hanson, Radiohead and Thrice and your favorite movie is “Anacondas”, you’re going to greatly up your chances of meeting a fellow Hanson/Radiohead/Thrice/Anacondas lover if you’re true to yourself on your profile.

Until next time, yours in best-foot-forward-honesty, S

Originally published on the 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. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

10 Weekend Activities You Haven't Thought of Yet to Expand Your Horizons and Improve Your Life

After a break-up or any other sort of change in your life, how you feel about yourself is one of the things that can take the biggest pummeling. To start putting power back in your piggy bank of self-esteem, try any (or all!) of the things on this list. You get bonus points for doing something you haven't tried before or that you're slightly nervous about, because every time you successfully do something outside of your comfort zone, you're reminded that you CAN do it and that you're a capable, kick-ass human being. I, for example, have a completely irrational fear of getting eaten by a shark, and while I'm completely comfortable in the water, the thought of being so far under I couldn't easily make it to the surface if I ran out of air makes my blood run cold. So for me, getting my scuba certification was a major accomplishment because I had to deal with these in-my-face fears. Now, whenever I encounter something that freaks me out, I remember how I not only survived, but was exposed to a new sport and new world of insane beauty, and it serves as a nice reminder that I'm strong and no matter what is scaring me, I'll probably get through this too. This is a huge boost for my self-esteem.

If you're feeling like flying solo to a class, retreat, trip, whatever, you get the added benefit of putting yourself in a situation to meet some great new people, which is always a plus when you feel a hole in another part of your life. If you're feeling social, bring a friend or five along and get reminded of the good things: great friends, laughter, sunshine. When you go away for a weekend and immerse yourself in something, it's a chance to leave all the BS you're dealing with at home and just fly free for a weekend. It doesn't take a lot of money, if any. Sometimes just grabbing a friend, driving to a new place for a day and exploring can fatten up your piggy bank.

So here it is - 10 things you haven't thought of yet to make this weekend awesome.

1. Redecorate your apartment / move stuff around / wallpaper or decal your bathroom - anything that will make it feel like a new place. Ending a relationship might be the end of a chapter, but you've got a new chapter just starting, full of promise. Buy some new throw pillows and rejuvenate your living space. Make it as comfortable and as you as possible.

2. Go buy a canvas and some paint from your local art store, dig out that camera and shoot (or anything else creative that floats your boat) and have at it for the weekend. Focusing entirely on creativity for the weekend can bust you out of the funk in no time.

3. Find a pole dancing studio and start taking classes. Almost all the studios will do a home-based class where they bring a couple poles for you and 5 friends, and teach you hot moves for a couple hours. Not only is it a blast, it's an incredible workout. If you like it, invest in some classes. I've yet to find a workout more fulfilling, challenging and fun than pole dancing.

4. Go all Julie and Julia on yourself and try 10 recipes in 48 hours. Have a potluck to share them.

5. Volunteer at your local animal shelter. They're always in search of volunteers to play with the animals to get them used to kind human contact. Sometimes all it takes is a fuzzy critter to cheer you up.

6. Go salsa dancing with your girlfriends. Wear something hot and if you don't know how to salsa, go to the free-to-cheap dance lesson prior to the club opening. Salsa dancing is one place where everyone is just there to have a good time and it doesn't really matter how good you are as long as you're having fun. Same goes for line dancing, except bring your cowboy hat.

7. Take a weekend with a girlfriend or your best gay friend and plan out a route to hit all your favorite thrift stores/craft fairs/swap meets/garage sales to find some cheap, one-of-a-kind treasures.

8. If you feel like adventuring in nature, check out REI or a local outdoors supply store for their weekend events. They'll often lead hikes, camping trips, river rafting, kayaking, scuba diving trips, etc. Doing some active, adrenaline-rush-inducing and challenging for the weekend is an excellent perk-me-up. Plus, because it's an adventure, you'll bond with everyone else in the group and meet some cool new people.

9. Buy a guidebook for your city and try three things you've never tried before - sightseeing, historical tours, garden/architectural walks, etc.

10. Spend the weekend planning your dream vacation. Figure out your budget, things to see, places to stay, ideal guidebooks and itineraries, etc. and then start saving. Planning for the future is a great way to start looking forward.

All of these are about deciding you're going to give yourself a mini-vacation from your life, and doing it. Leave it all behind for a weekend. Don't think about your ex, or your job, or any of the other multitudes of stressors you might have in your life. You'll feel rejuvenated after 48 hours.
Happy healing!

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

The Perfect First Date Follow-Up

You’ve had the first date, and it rocked. Maybe hands were held, maybe there was a kiss, maybe there was even sex — it doesn’t matter. Bottom line, it was great and you want to see this person again.

How do you go about creating the perfect follow-up so that you:

- Maintain the awesome, totally chill but fun persona you had going on the first date (to prove that it wasn’t a fluke)?

- Don’t seem too desperate (because looking desperate supersedes any points you got on the rockin’ first date)?

- Make it clear you like them (because nobody likes to be kept in the dark with mixed signals), while hiding the fact that you’re REALLY into this person and you’ve already thought about your future together (something to keep hidden so that you don’t freak them out)?

There are many differing opinions about how long you should wait to call a person after you’ve had the first date, varying from the no-games/heart-on-sleeve ASAP to making them wait a week. Like Goldilocks, I’m a fan of the middle option - 2 to 3 days. As in, if you went out on Saturday, Tuesday mid-morning is a perfect follow-up time.

What form should this follow-up take? Again - the opinions range from 64 long stem roses delivered to the office with a note professing your love to maybe sending an email or a text a week after the fact. I’m a big proponent of the voicemail — not just any voicemail — but a carefully crafted, short and sweet message conveying your hip lifestyle, endearment through sassiness and most importantly, a reason that you require their company as a certain time.

Here’s the three-step breakdown:

1) The ideal follow-up voicemail mentions what a good time you had (so as to indicate your interest and appreciation of the good time you had, but tempered to keep your total excitement under control about your future life together — there’s time for that on date three and beyond:  “Hey! It’s [your name here]. I had a great time with you on Saturday.”

2) Then, you mention an event that you must attend, real or created for the sole purpose of the voicemail (a friend’s birthday party, your cousin’s art gallery opening for which you require a co-pilot, or a concert you have two tickets to but your friend just bailed and you need a date) — “So, I need a date for this thing on Thursday night….Do you want to be my plus one for the evening?”

3) Wrap it up with a short and sweet ending: “Call me back. [your number here].”

You have a reason to be calling them besides confessing your undying love after spending such an amazing evening with them (always good), you’ve suggested the next potential activity, which saves both of you the awkward should-we-do-coffee-or-hiking conversation, and the fact that you were going to be going anyway and you’re inviting them along because you need a date (or need to give away a concert ticket), conveys with no uncertainty your lack of desperation. You’re clearly social, fun and busy — all good things.

If they happen to pick up the phone instead of you being able to leave your voicemail, the same rules apply - keep it short and sweet, pass along the invitation and have a reason to be getting off the phone: “I’m at work so I can’t talk long, but wanted to call and see if you were available for xyz on Friday - I need a date.”

Yours in second date bliss, S

Originally published on the 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. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

This April, Fool Yourself Into Happiness

After break-ups, lay-offs and life's other bummer-ridden gems, pity parties have their place and can be helpful at first. However, there always comes a time when it's time to pick yourself up and blow the persistent metaphorical rain cloud out of your personal air space. But what happens if you're not actually feeling happy when you start getting the subtle signals from your inner circle that it's time to stop wallowing? The answer is simple: fake it until you make it.

Here are three ways to prank yourself into happiness.

Smile and stand up straight.
By doing things that your body does when you're actually happy, you can trick your body into thinking it's happy. So next time you feel bummed out, check your posture and which direction the corners of your mouth are facing -- you'll fool yourself into a merry mood in no time.

Pay a compliment.
A random girl in a coffee shop complimented me on my necklace the other day. It's my favorite necklace with a great story about how I found it, and after a couple minutes of chatting, we both walked away smiling. The next day, I was in the gym and saw a girl with fantastic abs. Remembering the warm fuzzy feelings I got from my necklace compliment (and also being on the perfect-ab goal-train myself), I decided to let her know I was impressed. Her response? Overwhelming gratitude. Apparently, she'd adopted a new exercise/diet routine six months ago after her relationship broke up as a way to work through the recovery process. I was the first person to compliment her (a self proclaimed desk potato) on something she'd become quite proud of. Again -- we both walked away smiling. So the next time you see someone wearing something, doing something or having something you think is exceptional, let them know. Paying heartfelt compliments to strangers is a great way to spread a little love. It makes them feel great,which makes you feel great.

Do something nice for yourself.
Reminding yourself of the good in your life -- small or big -- is a great way to add points to your personal happy-bank. So have an laughter-filled evening with good friends, buy yourself some pretty flowers, get a massage, go for a hike, settle down with a good book, or cuddle with your cat -- whatever small things you enjoy, do them. The little things can sometimes make the biggest difference. Seek out and enjoy life's small pleasures and you'll find happiness isn't far behind.

Perhaps you're one of those people who are happy 100% of the time. If you are -- rock on. However, if you're like me and can use a little pick-me-up every once and a while depending on what's happening and how you're feeling, use these techniques to boost your mood. Trick yourself into happy and make today a great day.

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

Monday, April 12, 2010

5 Ways to Get Out There and Jump Into Spring

Spring is traditionally a time for falling in love. The flowers are blooming, the air gets warmer so shoulders and shapely calves are visible again after being hidden under cozy wool sweaters and jeans for months and months, and there's a certain excitement in the air. After a break-up, you may not be ready to dive back into the dating game, but you can certainly enjoy the tangential benefits of being around all this friskiness.

Try these get-out-there-and-enjoy-life tips this weekend:

1. Spend an afternoon catching up on all those phone calls with old friends you have on your list. Laughing at old memories is a guaranteed pick-me-up.

2. Volunteer at (or sign up for) an adventure race, a marathon, 10K, 5K, triathlon or any other outdoor sporting event. Whether you're there to help or participating, being around lots of people doing great things is a great mood lifter. The vibe at the end of a race is unmatched by any other -- it's a fantastic place to be.

3. Go on a food tasting/ coffee tasting/ chocolate tasting tour of your city with a friend or two or five. These are amazingly fun and you'll probably find some new favorite spots. Re-introducing yourself to your city after a hiatus and making new (happy) memories is a great way to move forward.

4. Volunteer with a local beach clean up, tree planting, or Habitat for Humanity group for the weekend. You'll meet tons of new people, and having something to do that has a positive impact is great for your emotional piggy bank.

5. Do a one-day mini road trip with friends to a local small town or scenic destination. Pick something that's about 2 hours away and make a mix-tape of all your favorite songs for the road. Have lunch, walk around and then head back. Getting away and having fun, even for just a little while, is a great way to jump back in and remind yourself of the great things you have in your life.

Spring is a beautiful time of year and a great time to be getting out there and back into life. No matter where you are in your journey of bouncing back, now's a great time to take a moment and enjoy the good in life.

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why I Love First Dates

I’ve heard the first dates equated to a job interview, described as “I’d rather be getting a root canal” and, in the opposite camp, looked forward to with the excitement of a six-year old waiting for Chrisma-Hanukkah. As a member of this latter camp, my goal is to shed some light on how first dates can be awesome instead of soul-sucking.

First off, what is it about first dates that’s so dreaded? Most would agree that fear of rejection is pretty high on that list, as well as the not-knowing-what-to-say awkwardness that accompanies most first dates like frosting on a cupcake.

Fear of rejection is pretty standard fare for any sort of situation where you’re (potentially or definitely) interested in someone else. The key to getting around this is to not have expectations about the date. Understand that I’m not advocating lowering your standards, I’m talking about not expecting anything to come of the date. If you don’t really care what happens, rejection won’t matter. Maybe they’ll even do it in a way that’s ridiculous and you’ll have an even better story to tell your friends later. Case and point:

I met this guy online. His picture was decent and he wrote me a witty email asking me to coffee, so I went. I arrived shortly before he did and was in the middle of ordering my tea when my date walked in, gave me a once over, said “Sorry - you’re not hot enough,” turned around and left. I turned back to the guy handling my order for corroboration that that had indeed just happened. He stared at me for a minute and then said  “I think you’re hot enough.” Weird? Yes. Good story? Most definitely.

As for the long awkward silences, you’ve already solved that problem by being on Pickv. When you’re matched based on interests, your first date ice-breaker is built in. You already have something to talk about and something that in all likelihood will get you through at least the first thirty minutes of the date. Bands, movies and books are things that we can talk about for hours, and when you already know the person you’re talking to has similar interests, it creates an instant bond that you can draw upon to make that first date comfortable.

I love the possibility of the date going bad as much as I love the possibility of the date going well and leading to a second date. Either way, I’ve had a good night - either with a great story to share with my friends or because I’ve just met someone I’m excited about. There are lots of weird people out there to look forward to having a weird, awkward date with, and there are lots of rad people with whom you can have an amazing time. Enjoy the process of dating and hopefully you’ll find yourself looking forward to first dates instead of dreading them.

Until next time, yours in love and relationships,

(Originally written for the blog on, a new dating site that matches you based on your interests (movies, books, music), for which I am the love and relationships expert. Check it out!)