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16 January 2010

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Embrace Singleness this Valentine’s Day!

    So you’re sitting there single for Valentine’s Day 2010. Maybe you find yourself suddenly solo and fresh out of a relationship. You gave him the boot, he dumped you… really doesn’t matter. The point is, you’re free. (Yes, I said free.) Or, perhaps you’re well on your way to yet another single Valentine’s Day, and the practice is becoming all too familiar Either way, it all sums up the same: you’re single and there won’t be any candlelit dinners, spontaneous proposals or so-called unexpected roses.

    So what? Single is something to celebrate! Trust me, I know. I’ve spent the past two not-so-fatal Feb 14ths without a significant other. And really it’s not so bad. So what if you spend the day thinking maybe, just maybe a secret admirer might send you a bouquet of the season’s freshest. Who cares if you wish that maybe that crush might pick up your vibes and think the time is right to make contact. It really doesn’t matter if you sit around thinking, “What if?”

    That’s expected. We’re single, but we have feelings… right?

    What matters is how you handle yourself after the workday is done. Or during, if you go all out for the event. As single, confident, independent people, our credo is the same:

    “We the single people shall not pine away for the perfect loved one, nor shall we wish for a second mate for any, all or last minute dates. We will not sit sulking for a spontaneous bouquet of roses. And we shall never, ever feel sorry for ourselves on Valentine’s Day.”

    Okay, so I just made that up. But it sounds good… right? So in order to grasp our new plea whole-heartedly, I suggest you see V-day (any coincidence that it rhymes with D-day?) in a whole new light. Embrace your single-hood. If you must, scoff at those betrothed to others. Give in to your most spontaneous of urges. And most of all: surround yourself with those just like you:

    The single!

    Now, because you’re single, you’re obviously experienced at devising great ideas and plans for fun. But for a bit of inspiration, I’ve taken a moment to jot down a few to enliven the senses and get those juices rolling. Take a look and start making plans, before the day arrives.

    1. Hit the Road Jack

      Road trip! Grab your single gal pals and hit the highway. Drive up the road to the nearest small town, find the area’s dingiest hole-in-the-wall, and make friends with the locals! Shoot some pool, throw some darts, chug a beer or two. Valentine’s Day don’t mess with those having fun!

    2. Feel the Rush

      The rush of love ain’t the only feeling worth grasping on Valentine’s Day. Do something adventurous – and I don’t mean a day at the spa. I mean the blood-pumping, stomach-dropping thrill of the most daring, outrageous adrenaline rushes. Make V-day your day for bungee-jumping, skydiving, rock-climbing. Try any of these and Valentine’s Day will be the last thing on your mind!

    3. Throw an Anti-V-day Dinner

      You’re single, most likely you’ve got lots of single friends. Why wallow, weep and whine in the isolation of your own homes? Gather all in the kitchen to prepare a huge anti-Valentine’s Day dinner: try “No Love Lost Lamb Chops,” or “Who Needs Him Ham.” Use your imagination!

    4. Bring-a-Single-Friend

      You’ve still got time to plan and host your own singles swap. Here’s the rules: all single friends are invited for drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and dancing. Sound obvious? Not quite. Here’s the kick: all attendees must bring at least one other available single friend of the opposite sex. Be sure to invite both guys and gals so the assortment and availability is plenty!

    5. Engorge the Senses

      Because if you plan it right, by distracting all 5 senses, you’ll surely overcome the instincts of the heart. For sound, I suggest Dean Martin’s Greatest Hits (really, I just discovered this and there’s a reason he’s a classic!). For sight, rent anything unromantic: The Godfather, Austin Powers, Coyote Ugly. Stay away from anything Meg Ryan. For smell, stride in to Victoria’s Secret and select the most inspiring, relaxing scent. For touch, if you’re up for it… employ a personal masseuse. Think Holly Hunter in Living Out Loud. If not, pair a bubbly bath with a bottle of the best bubbly (for taste). Finish it all if you please.

    6. We’re Just Kidding!

      If you’re over the age of 25, you’ve probably got coupled-up friends with kids. Now this may sound extreme, but trust me, you’ll have fun. Offer yourself for a pint-sized outing with the kids so the loving couple can enjoy a bit of privacy without the screaming rug rats. Pick the kid up, and get ready for a night of excitement. Try Chuck E. Cheese or any local arcade and go crazy with the games. Remember Joust, Qbert and Galaxia? They’re still out there and waiting for you!

    7. What’s Happenin’ Hot Stuff?

      Find out what’s going on in your town. There’s a reason Citysearch.com’s interactive planning guides are the most popular on the net. Find movie reviews, restaurant reviews, upcoming sports events, live theater performances. Do something you’ve never considered before. Normally outdoorsy? Try a traveling art exhibit. Typically tied to the opera or art? Venture out for something a little less pristine. You may find a whole new side to yourself!

    8. Rev Up Your Night Life

      The most obvious way to fight a “lonely” heart? Douse your calendar with dozens of dates, and fill up every lunch, dinner and drink opportunity with a new contact. Sound tough? Not really – just log in (or sign up) at online dating and find thousands of date-able guys and gals. You’ve still got time… who know what you’ll find by then!

    So there you go. All it takes is an escape from the need for romance and pink, lacy cards especially for you. Get into the single groove, call up a few friends, and let loose on February 14th!

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    Some people claim that in the pursuit of romance, men are the hunters. Like the lions of the Kalahari, they knowingly survey the landscape, carefully choose their prey, then hone in for the kill. Others say that women do the choosing; we don "war-paint," then lure the hapless male into our luscious lairs. Setting aside all the rhetoric, when you consider stories from real life, generalities about the genders seem to melt into the air. Sometimes a man does the pursuing, sometimes it's the woman. And in many cases, attraction is so instantaneous and mutual, the entire question of who's pursuing whom seems completely irrelevant.

    One woman whose unorthodox approach resulted in relationship success is Trina, a theater set designer, who has been with her boyfriend William for two and a half years.

    "I literally chased him—down the street!" she recalls with a smile, blushing slightly. "I'd seen him around the city a few times—once riding the subway, another time in the grocery store. I always noticed him because he's so tall—he's six foot nine! And I always thought he was incredibly good-looking, and wondered what kind of girl was lucky enough to get with a guy like that. In fact, I became convinced that he was the perfect man for me, and figured that if only I could meet him we'd live happily ever after."

    After several months, a half-dozen sightings, and innumerable romantic daydreams, Trina resolved that the next time she saw William she would make contact. And so the next time she spotted him, in a bookstore, she waited until he exited and made her approach.

    "I was scared to do it—I mean, he could have had a girlfriend!" she says. "But I figured that if I allowed my shyness to win out, I'd spend my life wondering if I'd lost my one chance at finding my soul mate. So I just followed him, said, 'Excuse me,' and asked him for his phone number." Trina and William went out for drinks that evening, and have been together ever since.

    William was charmed and flattered that a woman had approached him for a change, and says that Trina's confidence and spirit made an immediate good impression. "One of the things I like about Trina is that she's very vivacious, and knows what she wants," he says.

    Other men find that they are the ones who generally make the first move. Eli, who works as a manager for a footwear company, says that in every one of his relationships he has taken the lead—and he likes it that way. He first spotted his present girlfriend, Cordelia, at the gym and watched her for weeks before he made the first approach. "She is very good-looking, but I wanted to observe how she was with other guys, whether she was a big flirt. But she always pretty much kept to herself. I figured she either had a boyfriend, or she was someone who was trustworthy." Cordelia's workout included the Nautilus machines, and Eli was partial to free weights, but he started doing Nautilus too, just to get near her. "When I first started talking to her I think she thought I was kind of weird. It was ages before she agreed go on a date with me. But I won her over in the end."

    In some relationships, the question of pursuit seems less important than the unusual circumstances out of which they evolve. Seth met his present girlfriend, Toni, at the office: in fact, she was his boss! "I was very attracted to her but I tried to put thoughts about it out of my mind," he recalls. "But after months of working together, neither of us could deny that the attraction was mutual." Seth asked to be transferred to a different division of the same company. "I still remember the day the transfer came through," he says. "I got the news at four, and by six we were slowly walking back to her apartment, together. The sky was really beautiful, and the whole world felt fresh and wonderful. At that point we had never even kissed, but we quickly made up for lost time."

    Another relationship that evolved out of strained circumstances is that of Maureen and her now-ex boyfriend, Fred. When they met, Fred was actually involved with a friend of hers. "You know how a person likes challenges?" says Maureen. "He was with her. So he seemed like a challenge to me. I thought, 'I want what she's got.' And I got him." She left, and we ultimately had two children together.

    Maureen's story doesn't end so well, however: "I was very young back then. Since that time I've learned that what goes around comes around, because after five years with him the same thing happened to me. Now he comes around and sees the kiddies, but we're not together anymore."

    Maureen feels that she and Fred pursued each other, but many of the best relationships seem to evolve naturally, without any stress or issue of pursuit. "I met my girlfriend Kate at a restaurant," says Jonas, a software developer. "We were looking at each other across the room. I could tell she was attracted to me, as I was to her. She wasn't all done up or anything; she had very natural good looks and a friendly face. At a certain point we both just went up to the bar and started talking. I fell in love with her on the spot."

    So set aside for a moment the issue of pursuer and pursued. For many of us, what matters most is not whether we're confirming some half-baked theory about gender roles and food gathering patterns in pre-agrarian societies, but how well we connect with other individuals in the 21st century. So if love is eluding you, forget about war-paint: your most effective tool is a warm, honest smile.

    19 December 2009

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    Dating Internet Style

    Should dating become an Olympic sport? It often seems like dating can be a marathon of endless disappointments. Being so busy in today's society, the only way we seem to traditionally meet people is through work, friends, family, organizations, and places we frequent. Wouldn't it be nice to know that he or she exists and when they will arrive into our lives? After going on more than 500 dates myself by the time I hit 29 years of age, I felt that I had dated every type of guy that could possibly exist on the planet. I felt I'd more than trained for finding my soul mate. It can become depressing after a series of dates that do not work out, and you can begin to lose hope of ever finding that special person who can touch your heart like no other. You may start to wonder if you are being too picky and should relax on some of your requirements. But who wants to do that? So wouldn't it be nice to know a person's values, beliefs, future goals, priorities, and compatibility before asking someone out or accepting a date? Think of the efficiency that we'd all enjoy if we dated only people who met our basic requirements up front.

    It occurred to me that there must be an easier way to meet the right type of quality people. Why not create a wish list of everything you desire in a partner and see if someone responds? Because if you really think about the concept of dating, we're merely interviewing others to discover potential compatibility. Take me for instance, I created a wish list of sorts for what I thought would be my perfect match and to my surprise I had over 10,000 people respond to an Internet personal ad I placed. This was a bit overwhelming to say the least. Sorting through all these responses to find someone honest and sincere would definitely be a task. But I had discovered a source for dating Olympic style and with a better chance of having my requirements met right from the start: online dating.

    To date, most people who surf the Internet are business professionals that utilize the Internet in their daily work. After reading through my responses I noticed that the people surfing the personal ads represented nearly every profession. I could meet anyone I wanted with this incredible tool. The dating Olympics could finally begin! It was now up to me to catch the attention of the type of person I was interested in finding.

    During my training, I soon realized that when describing yourself via the Internet, subjective traits should not be included. It is better to focus on the black and white details of who you are and what you are looking for in a potential partner. Traits such as "I am nice, friendly, compassionate, honest, loving, etc" could be interpreted differently among a group of people. We all have different ideas as to what constitutes a "friendly" person. Instead, when you state that you have a college degree, you like horses, and you practice a particular religion, your description is more objective in nature. In this instance, there will be fewer debates as to whether you correctly described yourself. I also suggest staying away from informing people that you like such general things as holding hands, cuddling, going out to eat, watching movies, listening to music, hanging out with friends, etc. Who does not like these things? Tell the world what makes you unique instead of how you are like every one else.

    I soon learned that the Internet was the best invention ever. Because in one short year, I met over 100 people in person. And I had not one bad experience. Wow! Meeting so many new friends and acquaintances that had so much in common with me was a wonderful surprise. I knew then that I had to communicate this with the rest of the world, bringing other couples together. I kept hearing too many skeptical people with far too many misconceptions about the net. And I had to set the record straight. Most horror stories came from people who did not take the proper cautions, used chat lines, nor did their homework before meeting them in person. Whether you meet someone in the grocery store or over the Internet, you must use both your common sense and your intuition. So before meeting anyone in person, first and foremost it is important to see many recent non-glamorous images of your acquaintance. This will give you an idea of how serious they are about meeting you, and ensure that the photos they used are genuine.

    Of course, the Internet isn't only one way to date Olympic style. If you are young, you may need to date a variety of people to find out what you like in a partner. However, once you know what you want, the Internet can be a very efficient and effective way to become introduced to your next companion. There is no risk to browse the ads and see who is online. You can find a great site and my suggestion to start your search. I found my soul mate online and now it is your turn to have great success. At minimum you can make new friends and have fun dating, Olympic style.

    16 December 2009

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    Makeover for a More Dateable

    One great thing about single life is that it heightens your sense of awareness. Take your appearance. When suddenly single again, it becomes important to wear your best jeans to the grocery store, or to dab on a touch of lip gloss before Pilates. Because it's often true what they say love hits when you least expect it. And, to your surprise, Mr. Wonderful or Ms. Right could be sauntering down the dairy aisle or wiping down the stair machine. You must be armed at all times.

    Even if Mom always hammered in the notion that it's what's on the inside that counts, you don't have to feel guilty about that new car that cries, look at me! or the extra mirror time you manage every morning. Think of your new sense of physical awareness as opportunity to take control of your image and your life. Because when you look good, you feel good. And people take notice of your confidence exuding all over the place.

    A friend of mine recently split from her boyfriend of several years and absolutely swears that men are now checking her out left and right (which never happened when she was spoken for). She said she thinks it's in her stride or her aura or something that guys just sense her singleness. Possibly but it may also have something to do with those new leather pants and tight butt she's been working on since the breakup.

    • So if during your self-improvement/rejuvenation process, you, like my friend, attract fanciers like white on rice . . . great! Cuz you look gooood, and you're ready to get back out there. Of course, looking good and feeling good can mean many different things, depending on your priorities and what you need to feel comfortable with yourself. Here are a few things you may want to consider:What boosts your ego? Is it having a sculpted physique? A little color on your cheeks? A sassy new pair of sling backs? Maybe its not what's on you, but what you're on, like a big, shiny Harley or new dining room chairs. It may sound superficial, but we all have our comfort zone, and if spending a little cash makes you feel more self-assured and dateable, I say go for it.
    • Pluck, peel and primp. And this means both men and women. Spend some time on those eyebrows (if you've got one, make it two), give yourself a good facial (cleanse and exfoliate with a mud mask not out back), and sit down to a manicure and pedicure (think foot rubs and toe massages). If this all sounds like more work than balancing the federal budget, treat yourself to a day at the spa before a big date. (Note: Spa professionals seem to have a knack for spotting unwanted hair that we laymen can't see.)
    • Splurge on a good haircut. Can't stress this one enough. I've done the Supercuts thing when I just needed a trim for my low-maintenance do, and it just doesn't compare to the cut you get in a high-end salon. Subtle as the difference may be, a good quality haircut can change your entire look and attitude.
    • Eye appeal. Glasses can be very sexy (think Liam Neeson), but if yours make you feel like Revenge of the Nerds, you may want to consider a trendy new pair or look into getting contacts. There are a variety of contact colors available. Try a different shade than your natural eye color for a fun new look.
    • The breath test. Do friends constantly offer you Altoids and mint-flavored gum? Do co-workers take a step back when you move in to discuss a delicate business matter? Could it be your breath? It's hard to judge this type of thing for yourself, so if you think you may have a problem, ask a close (and honest) friend's opinion. If he or she confirms the worst, talk to your dental hygienist about possible treatments.
    • No clothes, no discipline, no sense of style? Personal assistants are now available for just about any need you can drum up: from personal trainers and personal shoppers, to overall image consultants. Check the yellow pages or the Internet, or talk to a respected salon or gym in your area. But before calling, take some time to make a list of what you really want and need from this miracle worker, so that your stalled-out plan for new and improved doesn't just become your assistant's. Work with your personality and complement your best traits.
    • Inside out. Personal makeovers extend beyond the physical. I asked a very attractive and dateable male friend to tell me what draws him to certain women, and his response would make anyone feel better about the dating scene: I think men love a confidant woman, someone who's not too flashy, but carries herself well. Personality is a plus too; a good personality can make an average woman more beautiful, or a beautiful woman even better looking.

    14 December 2009

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    The term "flirting" leaves most of us a bit flustered. We either wish we were great flirts and regret that we are not, or we distrust the notion altogether because it smacks of game-playing. We are often confused as to whether others are flirting with us, or merely being friendly. And when it comes to flirting online, most of us haven't a clue. To dispel all of this flirting bewilderment, I have outlined several common flirtatious types, which I call the Seven Deadly Flirts. Familiarity with these types helps us understand how best to flirt with others-and to determine when someone is flirting with us.

    The Greedy Flirt is an indiscriminate attention-seeker. At parties she gratuitously promenades back and forth in a skimpy outfit, or drives up and down the driveway in her shiny red Lamborghini. Online, she noisily announces her presence in a chatroom with a cheerful "Hello, Gentlemen!! HERE I AM!!!" making liberal use of exclamation points and uppercase lettering. The Greedy Flirt is happiest when all eyes are on her. Whether she ever follows through is anyone's guess.

    The Slothful Flirt conveys sensuality or sexiness with the littlest effort possible. He is a master of the languid glance, the sensuous gesture. Online he is adept at the sexual double-entendre, the provocative "Mmmmmmm! or "Do tell!" The Slothful Flirt doesn't do much because he doesn't need to; by piquing the curiosity of others, he inspires them to chase him.

    The Envious Flirt covets other women's beaus. If another woman will have a man, she believes, he must be desirable. Online, she tends to do the searching, and if a man tells her he is currently involved with another match, it only spurs her on. If you count an Envious Flirt amongst your friends, better watch your back: she's liable to invite your boyfriend to her place and encourage him to discuss his relationship problems over candlelight and a bottle of wine. If you happen to covet an Envious Flirt, she is easy to ensnare; just get one of your platonic female friends to pretend she is in love with you. The Envious Flirt is yours.

    The Lustful Flirt is clearly on the make. Perhaps he approaches you at a party and sighs, "I bet you look fantastic naked." Or sidles up to you in a bar and whispers, "I want to get you alone sooooooo bad…." Online, you have seen his handle, "TIGERNBED" or "OHORNYONE". The Lustful Flirt is thinking of one thing and one thing alone, and is determined to see it through immediately. His single-mindedness can be comical, but he walks a fine line between getting laid and getting arrested.

    Some animals signal their interest in the opposite sex by preening, and The Vain Flirt is no different. She flips her hair from side to side, or curls it around her finger. She touches her face and fusses with her clothing. Many women unconsciously do some flirtatious grooming, but the Vain Flirt takes it to an extreme. Online she'll promote her good looks to the exclusion of almost everything else, describing how she might dress on her first, second, third, and fourth dates. At a bar, she pulls out her mirror to reapply her lipstick, accompanied by lip primer, lip liner, lip gloss, and lip seal. The Vain Flirt is easy to spot, and she is yours for the price of a few compliments. But once you have her, you might find her less interested in you than in herself.

    The adulterous flirt is a wily creature, but if you are wise to his tricks you'll spot him with just a little effort. He has a complicated and important job in another town -managing an oil field, supervising the construction of an airport – so he is only around a couple days a week. He'd like you to come visit him at work, but unfortunately no visitors are allowed. Pity, because he is always so happy to see you, bearing flowers and gifts, and he always seems so frisky. But you can't reach him at night because he doesn't have a home phone and his cell always seems to be turned off. He doesn't wear a wedding ring, but the charade inevitably falls apart. The Adulterous Flirt has a missus, and one fine day she will hack into his personal email and track you down.

    The Gluttonous Flirt understands that the preparation of good food and the art of seduction should be practiced in tandem. Accept a dinner invitation from the Gluttonous Flirt and you're in for a treat. Unspeakably delicious aromas emanate from her kitchen. As she puts the finishing touches on a masterfully prepared meal, you are struck by her poise and sensuality. Once you sit down to eat, the meal becomes a form of foreplay, a sharing of a sensual language, so that by the time the dialogue moves from the kitchen into the bedroom the groundwork for love has been laid. Online you can spot a Gluttonous Flirt by the importance she places on food and eating out. "An avid and adventurous cook" is nothing if not euphemism. As you will discover, the Gluttonous Flirt is great fun in the kitchen – and elsewhere.

    Tips to Remember

    1. Do not put yourself down. If you are insecure about your weight, for example, just be honest about it without resorting to self-criticism. Some people prefer your body type, even if you would prefer yourself a few pounds lighter.

    2. If you are from another part of the world, make mention of that fact. It gives you and your potential matches something to talk about, and for many people it makes you more intriguing.

    3. Mention the internal qualities that are most important for you. If you have learned particular lessons from previous relationships, work that information into the section What (You're) Looking For.

    Quick Tips

    "When you have finally decided that online dating is right for you a good 'rule of thumb' is "The Bigger, The Better". Joining any of the "Biggest" online services will get you involved and meeting people faster, and having more messages to reply to (and ways to interact) than you can get from dozens of smaller services."