My latest for eHarmony … Appreciation!
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
There are an overwhelming number of women who feel unappreciated by their husbands. I often hear the following: “I just want to feel appreciated. For years I have been the cook, the cleaner, the chauffeur… I don’t feel like we are a partnership… I’ve asked, demanded, and pleaded that we go to counseling… I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to live the second half of my life feeling like this. I’m done.”
I know this is nothing new. I am sure my mother felt unappreciated by my dad at times during their marriage. I think that’s probably natural in the cycle of marriage and relationships. Life gets busy. We forget to thank those closest to us. But times are changing. I have spoken with more women than I can count over the past couple of years who aren’t just complaining about feeling unappreciated by their husbands. Instead, they are doing something about it.
These women, most of whom are in their mid-40’s, have decided they want out of their marriages. Sure, they are scared for what this means for them. Sure, they are nervous about the new unknowns divorce will bring. Sure, they recognize the impact this will have on their lives. For most of the women I spoke with, leaving their husbands means having to secure full-time employment for the first time in years. It mean moving out of the big brick colonial in the suburbs and moving into something more affordable. It means being alone. And you know what each and every woman I spoke with said? “I am absolutely OK with this.” I heard, “I’m OK being alone and starting over on my own… I feel as if I have been alone for years anyway. I don’t need my big house or my fancy car. I don’t mind having to work. I just know that I don’t want to spend the next half of my life living this way. Why should I?”
Wow! To give it all up and start over at 45? It’s surprising, particularly because to the outside world, these women appear to have it all. Their husbands aren’t “bad” people. We aren’t talking about men who are abusive or alcoholics. We aren’t talking about men who are dragging the family into bankruptcy. We aren’t talking about men who have lived a double life full of affairs.
What these women are expressing is a deep personal sadness at feeling disconnected and unappreciated by their husbands. They tell me they have fought for years to feel more connected and appreciated. This isn’t a whim, they assure me. They have thought long and hard about their decision to get divorced. They aren’t simply giving up. They have tried and fought a long battle. But the thing they each have in common is that they have reached their breaking point. They say, “I’m tired of not feeling appreciated, not feeling like I am part of a partnership. I feel like I am the roommate … not someone who is valued. I’m tired of asking to be appreciated — begging to be valued — pleading to feel as if I am important and not constantly playing second-fiddle to everything else going on in his life. I’m done.”
Divorce has become commonplace. Many women thrive after divorce. They live independent, happy lives. Any taboo or stigma that may have existed during my mother’s generation doesn’t exist any more. I think this gives many women the courage to say, “I can do this.” And, they are.
What do we do about this? Many husbands are left with their jaws hanging open in disbelief when their wives file for divorce. “Why didn’t we talk about this? Why didn’t we go to counseling? Why didn’t you tell me you were feeling this way?” The wives smile sadly and say, “We have, we did, I have… and it’s too late now… I’m done.”
I don’t like these conversations. I believe in the institution of marriage. I don’t like to see people quit. What can we do? I know the following advice is oversimplifying the issue — I really do — but it’s a start:
Men, please take the time to appreciate your wife regularly. Thank her for what she does for you and your family. Validate her. Cover her with words of affirmation. Wrap your appreciation of her deep within her heart. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The women I spoke with are not giving up because they weren’t thanked for emptying the dishwasher once. It’s the net result of decades of feeling taken for granted. When I suggest that perhaps having an open dialogue with their husbands alerting them to just how serious this really is and perhaps giving a final chance to make some changes, they tell me it would be too little, too late. “I’m done,” they say.
Clearly, women, this isn’t a one-way street. Appreciation goes both ways. Are you checking to see just how much appreciation you are showing to your husband as well? Do you thank him for all he does, or do you take him for granted? Really think about it. Perhaps you perceive that you are being more appreciative than you really are. What would he say?
I’m not saying that showing more appreciation will lower the divorce rate in our country, but I do believe that showing more appreciation will improve marital relationships.
Philosopher William James (1842-1910), said, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”
The women I speak with are craving appreciation.
What do you think?
My latest for eHarmony: What is Your “So What Now?”
“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”
~ John Baptiste Moliere
I saw a cartoon the other day that said, “Divorce is like algebra. You look at your X and ask Y.”
When I ask people going through a divorce what they might do differently next time, the first response I normally get is, “Not marry him (or her) in the first place!” Humor is good. Divorce is frequently such a stressful, sad time, that a little laughter goes a long way and is so good for the soul! It reduces anxiety and stress! But, underlying that question is a serious request for which I am seeking an honest answer.
I am a fan of some of the great things that Mahatma Gandhi had to say. For example; he said, ““It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” So often we hear the term “accountable” when it comes to the “other person” in our divorce. We hear, “He must be held accountable for his affair,” or “She needs to be held accountable for drinking too much.” What about our own personal accountability?
It is much easier to place blame on others, and say that all of the accountability lies with them. I get that! Trust me, I do! But, we also owe it to ourselves to turn that mirror around and find out what piece of personal accountability we each own.
I have often said that if you go through a divorce, even if you didn’t “do anything wrong” (that’s loosely defined), you still owe it to yourself to become introspective and ask what you might have done differently. If we don’t ask this question of ourselves, how are we going to become even better as individuals, even better in other personal relationships, and even better in any potential future romantic relationships, marriages or partnerships? What can we learn about what we went through that will make us a better person as we move on in life?
For some people, that introspection will result in a realization that they didn’t give priority to their spouse. It might be a realization that everyone else came first (work, the kids, the parents, the friends, the hobbies … always expecting that the spouse would wait patiently). It might be an awareness that you stopped letting little things that were “cute” when you were first married remain little things, and instead allowed that to become big items which led to rolling of the eyes, incessant nagging, and fights. It might be an understanding that you grew tired of being the one who was “always trying” and that you ultimately just gave up and stopped expending the energy and the oxygen that your marriage needed to survive. It could be that you quit taking care of yourself, that you quit trying to be healthy, that you quit trying to impress your spouse like you did when you were first dating or first married, and just expected them to understand.
My request today is to challenge each of us to question our own actions and find out what we are responsible for and what we can hold ourselves personally accountable for! You don’t have to share this with others; just be sure to be honest with yourself about what you might have done differently or what you will be sure to do differently on a go-forward basis.
I’m not saying this is easy to do. In fact it can be quite difficult to do, especially if you don’t feel you had any “blame” in your divorce. I hear people say, “I wasn’t the one who cheated. I wasn’t the one who squandered all of our money. I wasn’t the one who decided I didn’t want kids. I wasn’t the one who changed.” Then they say … “So I’m not accountable in any way, shape or form for my divorce.” Maybe … and maybe not.
I argue we can all learn a thing or two about who we are, what makes us tick, and what role we might have played in being part of a failing marriage. Accountability isn’t about personal blame and about tearing ourselves apart. It is about taking a life experience and learning from it. If you don’t learn from your own mistakes, you will keep making them. Turning that mirror around and discovering your own personal accountability is only part of it. It answers the who and the what. You still need to ask yourself, “so what?” So what now? So what will I do differently? So what have I learned about myself?
Personal growth comes from turning that mirror around, taking a deep look at yourself, accepting what you see at face value, and then doing something differently with that learning.
“Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You, and only you, are responsible for every decision and choice you make. Period.”
What do you think? What might you do differently next time? What is your “so what?
Huffington Post … Fun with my EX-
I recall speaking to a divorce support group a few years ago. Whenever someone referenced their EX- (e.g., EX-husband or EX-wife), each person was careful to use the phrase, “my former husband” or “my former wife.” This wasn’t just something that one person used, but rather everyone who spoke used this convention. I thought it was interesting. After all, using the term, “EX-husband” seems pretty common. When I asked what this was all about, I was informed that they believed that “EX-“ implied a negative connotation and they preferred to approach the word a bit more positively. OK! To each his and her own!
But, I would like to stand up for “EX-“ words and suggest that there are a number of EX-traordinary “EX-“ words that should be fully embraced post-divorce. One can wallow in EX-cuses, and get stuck in the EX-crement of what they just went through, or one can focus EX-clusively on moving forward and to the EX-citement and EX-cesses that this new life will bring!
Whether your divorce was your idea, or not, it is now a part of your story, and part of the journey that defines your life. Someone made an EX-it which EX-empted you from EX-tending your commitment to your marriage. I speak with countless people who are stuck in the EX-istence of “what was,” as opposed to eagerly anticipating the EX-pectation “what will be.” One of my favorite quotes that got me through my divorce was, “I can’t control what happens to me, I can only control how I react to it.” I love it when I encounter others who hold a similar attitude. No one is EX-empt from divorce. To those who say, “It will never happen to me” (like I did) you may find yourself in shock one day. Divorce EX-tends to all corners of our society and EX-cludes no one.
To those people who are stuck EX-amining their unplanned lives collapse around them, I say this: No EX-cuses! Inhale, then EX-hale. Now, pick up the pieces and become an EX-ample of how to move forward successfully after hitting a bump in the road. No one can do this EX-cept for you. Let the world EX-plode around you with new opportunities. EX-press your emotions. Don’t let your ability to love or to be loved go EX-tinct.
Having a failed marriage and becoming a divorcee at age 40 was not part of my EX-pectation for my life. That being said, it did become my EX-istence and part of my story. I was one of those people who opted for life to go on positively. I met an EX-traordinary man. I am EX-tremely grateful that he came in to my life and the lives of my kids. It’s nice to be confident in the EX-clusivity of our marriage. We have a common passion and bond around our EX-tra-curricular activities and have EX-plored the world together. We have EX-panded each others horizons. I feel EX-alted and respected by him, and in EX-change try to honor him in the same way. The bottom line is that this relationship and marriage EX-ceeds anything I ever imagined before.
Mae West said, “All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.” EX-actly!! My point is this: whether you call someone your EX- or your former -, make peace with that part of your story and move forward. Take advantage of your second chance, and make it EX-traordinary! I think I’ve EX-acerbated my point! There are some fabulous EX- words. Use them! Live them! Celebrate them. Just think: what a great way to celebrate getting rid of one EX- by introducing several new and more powerful ones!
By the way, I also met a woman once who didn’t use the term “EX-husband” or “former husband.” Instead, she had me laughing when she started taking about her “Wasband.” I thought I misunderstood. Then she clarified. She EX-claimed, “The man who was my husband is now lovingly referred to as my “Wasband.’” Love it! I thought that was EX-tremely clever.
Best Friend! – my latest for HuffPost!
My sides still hurt from laughing so hard! I just returned from spending a long weekend with five friends I have known since elementary and middle school. The six of us met between fourth and seventh grades. We’ve known each other over 30 years. It’s been four years since we have all been together. That’s an entire college experience. In spite of it being nearly 1,500 days since we had last seen each other, we picked up right where we left off.
Between us, we have shared marriages and divorces, births and deaths, laughter and grief, celebrations and failures. If we go way back, we’ve shared electric blue eyeliner, curling irons, Sassoon jeans, and lilac taffeta prom dresses. We know each other. We accept each other. We love each other.
Even though we don’t experience the day-to-day with each other, like we do with our friends who are in proximity to us, we seem to have a stronger bond. I sometimes wonder if many friendships aren’t born, and sustained, out of proximity and ease. Those are the friendships that don’t survive change. One person may move away, or the kids no longer play on the same sports teams, or the person switches jobs, and suddenly those people who were our closest friends, the ones we saw weekly, if not daily, who knew what we did day-in and day-out, are no longer a part of our lives. Real friendships endure all of those changes, and more!
The six of us weren’t always BFFs. Back in elementary school, middle school, high school and college, we drifted in and out of each other’s lives, but we were always there for each other. In fact, even today, we don’t all talk regularly. Life gets busy. We are wives. We are mothers. We work. Life happens. We don’t know the daily inner workings of what is going on with each of us, but rather we get together every three or four years, and suddenly time and distance disappear in a nanosecond. We don’t need to know what happens in the day-to-day to understand where the others are coming from in their lives, and that is what truly matters.
Last Saturday night, the firepot was lit, the wine was poured, and as we sat on the back porch talking into the wee hours of the morning, we realized that five of the six of us have already lost our fathers, yet all of our mothers are still alive. The experience we have had with our parents supports the claim that women tend to outlive men. It was a sobering thought.
At this point, we have all known each other longer than we have known our husbands. Heck, these girlfriends outlasted my first husband, saw me through my divorce, were there as I started dating and married my second husband, and are still by my side. There is a good chance that we may outlive our husbands (as our moms have outlived our dads).
My point is this: Our boyfriends and our husbands are important, but so are our girlfriends! They both play a different role (in spite of so many people who say they are married to their “best friend” — I get that, but it’s different! You know it is!). Yes, date, search for the perfect person to partner with in your life, perhaps even find a “best friend” to marry, but don’t lose sight of the importance of your girlfriends in all of this. And men, you want your girlfriend or wife to have a good support team of girlfriends. Trust me! It’s an outlet you want to encourage!
I brought a photo to show the girls last weekend. It was of the six of us sitting on the back porch at my parents’ house. The year was 1984. Yes! 1984! We took another photo last weekend of the six of us sitting on my back porch. Thirty years have passed between when those two photos were taken. Sure, we look a little different… a bit more mature (who knows when those little lines crept onto our faces?) — but we’re still smiling and laughing! And, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if 30 years from now, in 2046, we are taking yet another photo sitting on someone’s back porch. Who knows? Give us a few more years and maybe the photo will capture us sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch of a retirement home! I do know this: I love these girls, and I’m thankful to have them in my life. We all need our girlfriends. We need to make the time to maintain and cultivate these relationships in our busy, hectic lives.
What do you think? Life is busy! How do you cultivate and maintain friendships with your girlfriends?
Hook, Line and Sinker – my latest for HuffPost!
“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” ~ John Buchan
Back in February, I spoke with a friend who told me that she was struggling with the dating scene. She felt as if she was hanging around the same people over and over again. She wanted to meet someone new. I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for her situation, and merely suggested, “If you are always fishing in the same pond, you are always going to be catching the same fish.” Period. End of story.
She chuckled as she clearly knew what I meant, but I wasn’t sure that she was inspired to go find any new ponds in which to fish. She was very comfortable in her current pond. She knew what to expect out of her current pond. It was predictable and safe. Going to find new ponds would take her outside of her comfort zone. It might induce a bit of anxiety to visit a new pond. For many people, it’s human nature to avoid making ourselves uncomfortable and pushing outside of our comfort zones.
I told this friend that no one said fishing in new ponds was going to be easy. Some ponds may not be stocked with the kind of fish she wants. Others will be full of great fish! The challenge is that she will never know which situation she will encounter if she doesn’t at least try fishing in a new pond. The old adage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” makes all the sense in the world.
I was out with a different set of friends a few weeks ago when talk turned to dates – the good, the bad and the ugly, and as the conversation went around it turns out that two of the women had gone out with the same guy. Kind of awkward! Talk about the need to find some new ponds! Nobody wants to catch someone else’s “catch and release!” These friends told me that there weren’t enough ponds in our area. They tell me that I have access to lots of different ponds because I work outside the home, I travel for business, and I am involved in several community associations. They tell me that since they are stay-at-home moms or since they have “jobs” and not “careers” that they don’t have access to the same number of ponds. I call bull on that! We all have multiple ponds within our own little bubbles. We just have to think about it, let go of what’s comfortable, grab our rod and reel, and head out!
Instead of always fishing in the “work” pond, or the “Friday-night bar-scene” pond, switch it up and also fish in the “volunteer at the animal shelter” pond or the “local community college digital photography course” pond every now and then. Ask others what has worked for them. Step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. You have heard this before, but have you done anything about it? Have you really tried it and given it your best effort? Or, did you try one “different” pond outside of your usual routine, have a really bad time, and then decide never to do that again? Intellectually, we all know this makes sense, but putting it into action can often be tougher. Great dates aren’t just going to show up on your front porch. You have to be visible to let people know you are available. You have to be out there meeting people – and meeting new people – to stand a chance of catching new fish.
I also think it helps if you go in with the attitude that you are just fishing for fun, and not with expectations that you are going to catch the biggest fish ever and win the whole fishing tournament! Too much pressure! I think the fish can pick up on that vibe from a mile away. It’s like one of those sparkly, spinning lures that are supposed to attract fish, when really the fish are smart enough to realize what it is! Those fish wait for the natural bait to come along, and then they get hooked!
While I’m using this fishing analogy, here is one other thought: you also have to know when to cut bait and move on! I talk with too many women who continue to date someone even though they know “he isn’t the one” and ‘’there is no future.” How are you going to catch new fish if your line is already in use? Cut bait, rehook your line, and head back to the pond again!
By the way, my friend did visit a new pond. She didn’t jump in the boat and row right into the middle of her pond to drop her line in the water. She merely approached the pond, stood off to the side, and looked around the pond. She didn’t even come prepared with her fishing rod. You know what? She caught a keeper … and that’s no fish-tale!
What’s your fish-tale? Did you have success in a new pond?
My latest for eHarmony … Doubt!
“Doubt is the pinprick in the life raft.”
Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
When doubt enters into a relationship, it’s like the pinprick in the life raft, and if left unattended, it slowly sucks the air out completely leaving nothing but a saggy, soggy remnant of what once was.
Doubt! I’ve spoken with many people lately who have let doubt creep into their relationships. It’s like smoke. You don’t really see it. You get a sense that it’s there, but it’s hard to capture or define, and then voila, before you know it, it seeps into everything. I had a minor fire in an apartment I lived in while in grad school. Thankfully there wasn’t any significant burn damage, but there was tremendous smoke damage. Everything in my closet, and all of my bedding, had to be repeatedly dry-cleaned or replaced because of the lingering smell from the smoke that had crept in. The damage was done. So it is with doubt.
Recently, I’ve spoken with a woman who is doubting whether her fiancé truly is the man for her, and with a man who has doubts about a new job he just accepted. Two different scenarios to be sure, but in both, that doubt creates little lingering questions that don’t go away. Doubt creates questions that require answers which are hard to find. That doubt creates a nagging sensation that propels you to ‘keep looking’ as opposed to being completely satisfied and fully invested with what you have and where you are. The sad thing is that I know several people who have been married for decades who are, to this day, doubting whether they married the right person. That kind of doubt is dangerous.
Angie, who is doubting her choice in a fiancé, should be celebrating her engagement and planning her future with her husband-to-be. Instead, she is second-guessing herself. Joe, who is doubting whether his new job is the right one for him, should be immersing himself in getting to know his team, and learning the new organization. Instead, he is second-guessing the jobs he turned down and wondering whether he made the right choice. Neither is 100% invested in the decisions they made.
Doubt, like smoke, plays an important role. Often times we don’t see the fire, but we do smell the smoke (or hear the smoke alarms go off) to alert us to a fire, and that propels us to take action. Perhaps the doubt that Angie is feeling is warranted and she should take a second look at whether marriage to her fiancé is the right decision for her right now. Better to realize now that it’s not her best choice rather than after a large wedding celebration, several years of marriage and/or the arrival of kids. Perhaps Joe should take heed of the doubt that he is feeling. Perhaps he is seeing early signs that this new company really is not a culture fit with his style and that he is better off cutting his losses sooner rather than later.
I argue that doubt does play an important role when it enters our thoughts and stimulates us to check, learn, and reaffirm. When doubt enters, it can cause us to question or validate what we believe. It’s like searching for and finding that pinprick in the life raft. We have choices. We can find the pinprick, seal it, and stop the slow-escape of air, or we can decide it’s not worth it and scrap the $.99 life raft! We are able to be decisive and take action.
However, it’s when doubt lingers that it becomes a problem. By the time Angie walks down the aisle in her wedding dress, all doubt should be gone and she should be fully committed to the man she is going to marry. It’s only fair to him and to her. By the time Joe has been in his role for a few weeks (maybe months), all doubt should be over and he should be committed to building, leading, and developing his new team. It’s only fair to him and to his employer.
The bottom line is that doubt can play a very important role in getting us to think realistically about certain situations. Doubt is that inner voice that frequently guides us so well. There is a role for doubt that causes us to reaffirm (or realign) our choices. Ongoing doubt, however, that cannot be extinguished can be dangerous as it creates a sense of unease and dissatisfaction with the choices we have made.
What are you doubting? Are you using your doubt to find, and potentially seal, the leak? Or, is your doubt acting as the pinprick that is slowly sucking the air out of your relationship?
My latest for eHarmony! Change!
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on
fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates
Your life has changed. You are now divorced. Perhaps you wanted this change. Perhaps you didn’t sign up for this change. Perhaps you were blindsided by this change. Regardless, change is happening and it cannot be stopped.
I have a coffee cup in my kitchen cupboard that is imprinted with this saying: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi made this statement, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about the importance of change as it relates to divorce! But, let’s pretend for a moment that he was. What change would you want to see in your world? What would you do differently? If you could have a “do-over,” what would it look like? This is an opportunity for you to define what would be different in your world. How cool is that?
I’ve always been an optimist, and this is obviously an optimistic perspective. If you are naturally a pessimist, (as in the type of person who would look at my “change” coffee cup and pronounce it half-full at all times!), I ask you to humor me and follow this train of thought.
Say you didn’t sign up for the divorce. You thought you had signed up for “until death do us part.” This “change” isn’t a part of the vision you had created for yourself. This wasn’t supposed to be a part of your story.
Say you don’t like change and don’t want change. You like being married. You like where you live. You like the comfort in your life. You like your routine. You like your children living under the same roof as both of their parents – every day. You like spending every Christmas with your kids (and the thought of “every other” is horrifying). You essentially “like” your life.
But, now it’s changing. Someone or something has caused a change. You can’t control it. You can’t stop it. Perhaps you have tried. Perhaps you have valiantly fought to stop the change, but like the sun setting and the sun rising each day, the change still happened, regardless of what you have tried to do.
I speak with many people who refuse to accept the change that their divorce brings, even though it’s inevitable or even though it has already happened. These people appear stuck. They aren’t moving forward. What happens when you refuse to accept change? It happens anyway, doesn’t it? Then what? We are left watching the world go by, leaving us hoping for how things used to be, but that’s a naïve thought.
Other people I speak with, while unhappy with the prospect of change (and unhappy at the prospect of being divorced), understand the need to ultimately embrace the change. These same people deal with their anger, their grief, and their sadness, and then ultimately say, “OK. This is my new life. Deal with it!” And then, they frequently find that this initial unwanted “change” brings new, unexpected, and even better changes into their lives! New opportunities! New jobs! New friends! New homes! New relationships!
And then, the best part is when they say, “I would never wish what I went through (my divorce) on my worst enemy, but I am soooo much happier now than I ever was before. In retrospect, this has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.” Trust me when I tell you that I have heard this on many, many occasions.
“One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage
to let go of what you can’t change.”
Don’t fear change. It’s going to happen anyway. Ride the wave of change. You may discover something greater than you ever anticipated!
What about you? How did you successfully navigate through change? What did you do with your “do-over?”
My latest for eHarmony: 5 Steps Marketing
“Bring the best of your authentic self to every opportunity.”
~ John Jantsch, Author of Duct Tape Marketing
An evening meeting with a professional colleague (let’s call her Susan) turned a little punchy last week. We were talking about our business marketing strategy … which led to an economics discussion on supply and demand … which seamlessly (!?!?) segued into a discussion about her dating life … or lack thereof (What can I say? We are two women and that’s where our stream of consciousness took us!). We naturally circled back to where we started with our marketing strategy discussion only this time we focused on her “marketing strategy” as it applied to her “business” of finding a date/relationship.
The ultimate question we tried to answer is this: How can you leverage some very basic marketing principles to improve your chances of reaching your intended audience? (And by “intended audience” I mean the date/relationship of your dreams!).
Here are five “Marketing 101” concepts. How are you applying these? Successfully? Or, are you failing miserably? This might be something to think about …
1. Determine precisely what you have to offer to the marketplace, how your product or service is different from what others are offering, and, most importantly, why anyone should care!
Know yourself. Be confident in what you have to offer. Don’t try to be someone else. Authenticity always wins. Identify what you uniquely can bring to a relationship, and then leverage those things. Susan felt so beaten down and dejected after a series of bad first dates that she needed to stop and really take stock of how wonderful she really is … and comprehend what sets her apart from so many others in the dating scene. She needed to take stock, gain focus, and maintain clarity. Are you comfortable and confident with who you are?
2. Think about what the customer is buying instead of what you are selling, and you can generate very profitable results.
Focus on what a potential date might be looking for, and then authentically leverage this. The key here is “authentically.” In this case, we are assuming that Susan’s dates are “buying” a great conversation, some laughter, a good connection. Focus on achieving those objectives, and less on “selling” yourself. In fact, Susan rolled her eyes as she told me about a date from the previous Friday night where the guy had been trying so hard to tell her on what a great catch he was that she left feeling his desperation. Trying too hard isn’t appealing. Do you know what your ideal date is looking for?
3. The only time the customer is ever interested is when you tell him/her how the product will improve his/her life.
Building on point #2, this is not a “desperate” sell, but rather a “leave your date wanting more” opportunity. As I left my first date with my husband, I knew my life would be improved by having more of the amazing conversations we had, more of the way he made me feel so comfortable, and more of how he made me laugh (he was trying to demonstrate a story and had this great way of using the silverware at the table as his props – I’ve never forgotten it!). How will you improve someone’s life?
4. Specifically identify your key buyer target description and ask yourself whether your promotion strategy is reaching the right market.
Are you putting yourself out there in situations where you might meet the kind of person you actually want to date? There is no use marketing yourself to people who do not fit your target “buyer.” Susan is an incredibly health conscious woman. She met a guy at a bar, and they went on a date the following weekend. She realized that he reeked of smoke – not from the bar scene, but because he was a chain smoker. Total deal breaker for her! She clearly wasn’t reaching her right market at the bar, but we did talk about how she could join the Saturday morning cycling club and that she might meet some new friends who enjoyed a similar passion for cycling. Have you identified your target buyer?
5. Explore whether any research and development investments need to be made.
Perhaps this is investing in an online dating membership or signing up for that gardening class that interests you at the local community college. Perhaps this is buying a bike and joining Susan at the Saturday morning cycling group. Investing in your personal development could be anything from learning a new skill (e.g., taking dance lessons) to taking better care of yourself (investing in a new hair cut or updating your wardrobe!). Where do you need to be making an investment?
Most importantly …
“Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with your marketing.” ~ Mike Volpe, Chief Marketing Office, Hubspot
If what you have been doing isn’t working, or isn’t working the way you want it to, perhaps it’s time to switch things up!
My latest for eHarmony: 5 Dating Resolutions!
“Tomorrow is the first blank page in a 365-page book. Write a good one.”
Happy New Year! You rang in the new year and resolved that this will be the year that your dating life changes … for the better! Now what!? Here are 5 resolutions you may want to consider as you look ahead at the next 365 days.
1. I am going to put myself out there. No potential dates are going to find me sitting at home waiting for the “right” person to come along and wondering why “all the good ones are taken.” This year, I am going to be more proactive and see what happens. I am going to utilize online dating. I am going to become more involved in activities where I could meet others. In other words, I am going to put myself out there. I’m going to volunteer in my community, join a wine tasting club, learn how to cook, join a Saturday morning running group. I am going to put a little more effort into my online profile. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I’m going to accept the idea and take responsibility for the fact that I won’t meet any new people sitting at home.
2. I am going to recognize that I am important too. I speak with countless divorced women who would love to be in a relationship, and who have so much love to give, but they feel guilty about dating while their kids are still at home. I hear, “The kids are my priority. I’ve decided I am going to wait to date until the kids head off to college.” In theory, how unselfish…but their kids are ages 5 and 7! Seriously. Two thoughts. One, you deserve to have a fulfilled life too. Contrary to popular belief, life is not just about catering to your kids, and they need to see that. Two, responsible dating can be a great thing to role model to your children, and it will set them up for success as they mature.
3. I am going to start dating when I “fill in the blank” (e.g., lose 10 pounds, or get a new job, or finish my masters degree). If you reflect back on your life, don’t the great things seem to happen when you don’t feel you are ready for them? We can’t always plan and control our own timing. Waiting for one “event” to happen before we allow ourselves to think about the next thing tends to put us in a perpetual cycle of waiting (and those 10 pounds may not come off as quickly as you would like, which is totally OK but it shouldn’t be the excuse that holds you back from other things). Let life happen.
4. I am going to put out the “available” vibe. I recall several friends telling me that there is an “available” vibe that a person puts out when they are truly ready to start dating. I wasn’t sure what this “beacon” or “signal” looked like, but they were right, and I’ve seen it play out several times over the years. It’s invisible, but there is something different about you when you are truly ready and open to meeting someone new. It’s not a vibe of desperation manifested in heading out to the bars every Saturday night in stilettos and fishnet stockings. Instead, it’s more of a subtle beacon that draws people into conversations with you. I can’t explain it, but it’s worth asking yourself what vibe are you putting out to the universe? Are you displaying negative energy with a chip on your shoulder, or are you a light of positivity open to new people, new ideas, and new situations?
5. I am going to be open to dating a different “type” than I normally do. We all have an idea of what our “perfect” type is, right? It may be a build, an education level, a profession, a personality type, but curtailing our potential dates because someone doesn’t fit our preconceived mold is just plain silly. What’s the worst that can happen if you go out with someone who on first glance isn’t your “type”? One, you may learn otherwise. Two, you may make a new friend. I have seen this one prove out over and over again. Friend A got asked out by a guy who was very short. “Not my type,” she said, “I like tall men.” I encouraged her to go out with him. “It’s just dinner for heaven’s sake. You’re not marrying the guy.” Within a year, they were married! Friend B was asked out by a guy she knew from a distance. She always considered him to be a wallflower with very little personality. As she lamented whether or not she should go out with him, I reminded her that she didn’t have anything else on her calendar for Saturday night. Turns out, he’s just a bit shy, but in fact he is a great guy who knows how to truly carry on a deep and meaningful conversation. Yup, still dating – very seriously!
What else? Any other dating resolutions you would add to this list?
My latest for eHarmony … Thankful …
Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. ~ Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss Philosopher
It’s Thanksgiving. It’s that time of year when we put a bit more focus and attention on what we are thankful for in our lives. I love the quote above by Swiss philosopher Amiel. He distinguishes between “thankfulness” and “gratefulness.” I love the distinction. Thankfulness is words; gratefulness is acts. Gratefulness is what we do when we are thankful for who and what we have in our lives.
As I reflect at Thanksgiving, here’s my stream of consciousness as to what I am thankful for this year …
I am thankful for my faith and the comfort it brings me, my wonderful husband and all the love, laughter, and adventures he has brought to our lives, my teenage children and the lessons they teach me daily, my amazing mother and the strength and fortitude she has modeled for me, my church and the welcoming environment it provides to our community each week, my extended family and the fact that while we may not see each other frequently we are still always there for each other, our good emotional and physical health which should never be taken for granted, my two rescue dogs and the unconditional love they show us every day, the school my kids attend and the many teachers who have played such an important role in helping me to raise kids with good values, my life-long friends and new friends who remind me daily that no matter how busy life gets, we all need our ‘girlfriend’ time to restore our hearts, minds, and souls.
There’s more … I am thankful for moving this summer and reducing the number of hours I spend sitting in traffic each day, for a positive relationship with my ex, for fall football, for the amazing experiences and life changing awareness I am gaining through participating in my community leadership program, the love of reading, my phenomenal business partners, my iPhone, the ability to give back to others and to role model that for my kids, the impact of “The High Road Has Less Traffic,” traveling to places I’ve never been, looking through photo albums and revisiting happy memories, testing my comfort with being uncomfortable and stretching outside my comfort zone, soft blankets, and hot soup on a cold day, Starbucks, the beach, talks and walks with friends, Lake Oconee, my kids’ baby books, hot summer days, blue skies, big smiles, belly laughs, Survivor, high heels, pedicures, new adventures, comfortable routines, the power of prayer, and the beauty of forgiveness.
What I love about this kind of reflection is that it makes us aware of the big things and the little things for which we are thankful. Yes, of course, I am incredibly thankful for my health and my family. I don’t want to take any of that for granted. But, it also forces me to take time and reflect on the “little” things for which I am thankful like soft blankets and long walks. The list could go and on and on … and reading (and re-reading it) makes me smile.
I demonstrate my gratefulness by waking up each and every day with the intent to treat others with kindness and make a difference in the lives of the people I meet. It becomes a personal challenge each day to impact at least one person. Kindness rocks!
It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy.
I encourage you to put your own list together. Stream of consciousness! Where does it take you? What are you thankful for, and more importantly, how are you demonstrating your gratefulness?