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?