Dating, Romance, Sex

5 Steps to Creating Your Dating Marketing Plan

February 10th, 2016 → 6:46 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony: 5 Steps Marketing

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Plan target on grunge background

“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!

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, Sex

5 Dating Resolutions I am Going to Keep in 2016

January 5th, 2016 → 3:10 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony: 5 Dating Resolutions!

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New year resolutions about to get healthy on the wooden background

“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?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Danger Zone!Dating, Romance, SexTaking Care of Yourself

Microwave or Crock Pot?

September 22nd, 2015 → 9:25 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Microwave!

My latest for eHarmony! Bon appetit!

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relationship tips

“Don’t you hate it when you are hoping for microwave timing and God seems to have your situation in the crock pot?”

This one hits close to home! And goodness, I can certainly relate. It drives me crazy when I’m ready for something to be “over and done” and it’s still simmering away, taking it’s time before it’s completed. We live in a microwave world. We want things fast. We’re in a hurry. We don’t like waiting. Instant gratification is our desire.

We apply this same microwave thinking to our personal lives and our relationships.

I have a friend going through a tough time with her daughter. She just “wants the whole thing to be over with” so they can “move on.” She wants the healing to be complete, not giving full credit to the healing that takes place only through the passage of time. “Why can’t I just snap my fingers and make all of this go away,” she asks rhetorically. She knows that isn’t possible, but recognizes that it sure would be easier.

Another friend is reeling from the sudden loss of her father. It was totally unexpected. She doesn’t want to endure all the “firsts” that are occurring in this year following his death. She simply wants this year to pass by quickly so that all the firsts are avoided. She wants to “microwave” time so what should take a full 365 days feels like it takes less time. Dealing with each special day is just difficult and emotionally taxing.

Then there is my other friend who is in year three post-divorce. She feels like she has given time to her healing. She believes she’s “done her time.” She’s seen her ex-husband move on. He started dating. Then (gasp!) he remarried. The thing is that she also wants to be in a relationship. She wants to fall in love with the right guy. She doesn’t want to have to date. She’s tired of going on bad first dates. She’s tired of not feeling the chemistry. This dating stuff is hard work and, frankly, can be exhausting. Why does it take so much work to weed through the Mr. Not-Rights in search of Mr. Right? She just wants to have Mr. Right presented to her on a microwave-safe plate.

The thing is that anything worth having usually takes time to develop. Healing takes time. Surviving challenging experiences takes time. Building really strong foundational relationships takes time. Most things in life need to simmer. We need to allow the gift of time to be just that – a gift.

I cautioned my friend who has the situation with her daughter to not “wish her time away.” Yes, it would make the “stressful” things disappear faster, but it also means rushing through another year of her daughter’s life (oh by the way, her last one at home before heading to college). Does she really want to do that?

I try to help my friend who doesn’t want to face the firsts after her dad’s death to welcome those firsts by remembering in intricate detail all of those good times because as the years pass those memories dissipate. I know that my memories of my dad have faded as I now find myself reflecting back on our time together, which unbelievably was over 16 years ago.

I try to find humor with my friend who is in the midst of the dating scene. I tell her she has the best stories to share of her dating debacles, and that she, too, will find Mr. Right when the time is right! She needs to understand and accept that while she would like to microwave the near-instantaneous creation of Mr. Right, it might just be that the crock pot is simmering away and that, when done and ready, the final product will be absolutely perfect.

They say, “Time heals all wounds.” I’m not sure I agree. I don’t know that time can heal all wounds but I do believe that the passage of time serves to make those wounds more manageable and more palatable.

What do you think? Are there situations in your life where you are hoping for microwave-fast results, when you know deep down that this one really requires the long-term simmering of a slow cooking crock pot?

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Danger Zone! &Dating, Romance, Sex &Taking Care of Yourself

Dating, Romance, Sex

Is Anyone Out There Having Sex?

September 17th, 2015 → 9:15 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for Huffington Post  … a bit edgy for me! :) Had fun writing it! Sex?

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Sex is as important as eating or drinking and we ought to allow the one appetite to be satisfied with as little restraint or false modesty as the other. Marquis de Sade

I find that I speak with many men and women about the state of their relationships. Friends, acquaintances, colleagues, people behind me in line at the mall, strangers sitting next to me on airplanes – they are all fair game! Lately, a theme has emerged which is very disturbing to me. At first I thought it could be the age of my subjects, but then I realized I have spoken with a cross-section of people of different ages. Then I thought it might be the stage of life they are in, but then I realized I have spoken with a cross-section of people at various stages in their lives and relationships. I’m puzzled. What is going on? Why are married people, seemingly committed spouses, both men and women, sharing with me that their love lives are nearly non-existent? Why am I hearing things like, “We haven’t been intimate in weeks (months!)”

Here’s what I heard about why this dearth of intimacy is going on in America!

We’re stressed. (Yes, life is hard. That’s a perfect reason for other things to be too!)

To succeed with the opposite sex, tell her you’re impotent. She can’t wait to disprove it (Cary Grant).
Being too stressed can lead to other “problems” and based on the ads I see on TV with handsome men talking about ED and gorgeous women talking about having a low libido, this appears to be a valid issue in our country. Engaging in sex should be a stress reliever! Doctors should be prescribing this instead of drugs for high blood pressure. Don’t you feel better after you and spouse have had a healthy sex session? The stress may still be there, but I bet you have forgotten about whatever was stressing you out at least temporarily!

We’re tired. (yawn!)

Skiing is better than sex actually, because for me a good round of sex might be seven minutes. Skiing you can do for seven hours (Spalding Gray).
Yes, I get it. We are overworked. Up at dawn, hitting the gym, off to work for a long day of meetings, home for family dinner, before heading off to coach little league, and finally home at 10PM. Don’t . Touch. Me. I. Just. Want. To. Sleep. What? This isn’t like you are signing up for an evening course to learn the art of Tai Chi (to reduce all that stress, of course). Tai Chi class meets every Monday evening from 6-9PM. Sex doesn’t need 3 hours. Damn! Don’t worry, you will be sound asleep in about 5-10 minutes.

We’re bored. (um, hello. Seriously? Make it fun! Sex isn’t supposed to be boring.)

Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. “Yes” is the answer (Swami X).
Make it fun. There are lots of ways. If the two of you really can’t figure out how to make it fun, I understand there are stores which will help you by selling you toys designed to make it more fun. Remember how much you used to love going to the toy store when you were little? Perhaps it’s time for a visit! The answer is “Yes!”

We’re afraid the kids will hear us. (That’s not the worst thing ever!)

Kids. They’re not easy. But there has to be some penalty for sex (Bill Maher).
I get this point about not wanting to have your kids hear you and think you are passing a large kidney stone, but c’mon. I grew up thinking my parents only did it twice (once for my brother, and once for me!). Instead, wouldn’t it be nice for kids to be taught the importance and value of intimacy when it exists in the context of marriage? Mommy and Daddy need their special time too!

We aren’t feeling the love. (Yes, sometimes people need a reason to get fired up!).

Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place (Billy Crystal).
Up until now, my comments have really been aimed at both the men and the women, but this one is more targeted. Rightly or wrongly, many women seem to need a “reason” to make love to their husbands. Many women articulated an inability to feel romantic towards their husbands when they aren’t feeling appreciated and valued. Without opening a whole can of worms, I suggest this. Men, give her a reason to have sex. Empty the dishwasher. Give the kids their bath. Trust me. This is sexy … and a really good “reason.” Women want to feel appreciated and a little “act of service” goes a long way. Don’t get all bent out of shape on this topic. Remember, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

What do you think? Any reasons I may have missed?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, Sex

Rule #3: Enjoy More Intimacy

April 28th, 2015 → 7:14 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s Rule #3 in the series for eHarmony – enjoy! Rule #3

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have more sex

 

“Kids. They’re not easy. But there has to be some penalty for sex” — Bill Maher

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been that; done that. No more, thank you very much!

I am writing an article about each of the 7 rules and really trying to expand upon what each one means and how we can apply it. If you want to catch up, Rule #1 was Realize You Can Lose Your Partner, and Rule #2 was Bring Back the Little Things. Today, we are on Rule #3 … and it’s a fun one!

3. Have more sex! If only I had a dollar for every person with whom I have spoken who has lamented to me that they are “roommates” with their partner. Think back to the roommates you have had in your life. Perhaps you roomed with a sibling growing up. Perhaps you roomed with dorm-mates in college. Presumably you weren’t having sex with them. To say you are living as a roommate in your marriage means you are not living as lovers and that you aren’t having sex. In the context of a happy, healthy, and committed marriage, not having sex is a real bummer.

Sex (when done right!) is intimate. It creates a connection. It’s an emotional experience. It brings two people closer together. To have those things lacking in a marriage is really sad.  Yet, as we celebrate more and more wedding anniversaries, and we have kids, and we get tired, and we get really, really tired, well, sometimes – often times – it’s the sex that starts to dissipate, then disappear. That’s tragic. I don’t care how old you are, or what physical state you are in, there is an emotional connection that happens when you make love to your spouse.

And, while sex is fun and important, let’s not focus just on the ultimate physical act. Many of the same couples who tell me that they are roommates with their partner, are the same ones who tell me that they aren’t just lacking sex, but rather all physical touch with their partner.

There is so much to be said for just touching one another. Holding each other’s hands. Giving each other a really huge bear hug. Giving a gentle kiss on the forehead. Participating in an all-out kiss that reminds you of when you first met!

Any kind of physical touch conveys love. When we were infants, we wanted to be held and touched. That was how we recognized love. Now that we are older, it’s no different. Most of us really like touch, and it’s the primary love language for many of us, and that tank can be filled in so many ways …be it sitting intertwined on the couch while watching a movie, spooning in bed, or holding each other’s hand while walking through the mall.

If you are one of those people who has LOST physical touch in your relationship, it’s not too late to get it back. If you are one of those people who has LOTS of physical touch in your relationship, good for you for keeping it a priority.

“Intimacy is not purely physical. It’s the act of connecting with someone so deeply you feel like you can see into their soul.”

What do you think? Once physical touch starts to disappear completely is the relationship doomed?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, Sex

Rule #2: Bring Back the Little Things

April 22nd, 2015 → 2:31 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony! Rule #2!

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lovenotes

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been that; done that. No more, thank you very much!

I wrote an article about Rule #1 recently – Realize You Can Lose Your Partner  - and here is Rule #2. Stay tuned for Rules #3-7!

Rule #2 – Bring back the little things.  

To me, Rule #2 is a continuation of Rule #1. Rule #1 said, “Realize you can lose your partner.” I compared the attention that we give to a meaningful piece of jewelry or the care that we give to an important key as we try not to lose either item, and suggested that this is how we should be treating our partners. In an effort not to lose them, we should be showing them the same care and attention that we are giving to our meaningful watch and important key. After all, isn’t your partner just as meaningful and important?

Rule #2 is all about how we show our partner that we find him or her meaningful and important. Time and time again, people tell me how frustrated they are in their relationships because they feel they are no longer appreciated. Those “little things” that are so wonderful and prevalent in the beginning of relationships often begin to disappear. It happens slowly, and then one day, one person realizes, “Hmmm … my husband used to bring me coffee in bed every Sunday morning when we were first married … and now he can’t wait to get out the door to get to the golf course.” Or, he thinks, “My wife used to stay up late when I came in late from work so that we could talk about our day together … and now she’s fast asleep in her sweatpants.”

We are talking about little things … that are really huge, enormous, tremendous things that have the power to change relationships. Think about it. What “little thing” has someone done for you lately? Did it make a big impact on you? Clearly it did because you still remember it. Little things don’t have to be expensive; they don’t have to take a lot of time; they don’t even have to take up a lot of your energy.

Little things are just that – little things, and bringing back little things will do huge things towards bringing back love, energy, and connection in your relationships (and let’s be clear, we are not just talking about your romantic relationships, but rather all of your relationships). When was the last time you…

Did a little thing like send a friend a card to let her know you were thinking about her, or put a little love note in your partner’s suitcase before he left on a business trip?

Did a little thing like buy the person behind you in the drive-thru line at Starbucks a coffee even though you didn’t know them, or brought your partner a coffee (or diet coke or glass of OJ) in bed on a Saturday morning?

Did a little thing like give a fellow mom a huge smile of encouragement and a word of support when you could tell she was having a day where she just lost her bid for “mom of the year,” or gave your partner an unexpected foot massage after she had a long day on her feet (in those favorite heels you bought her)?

Did a little thing like offer to bring your friend’s kids home after soccer practice so that she and her husband could have a quiet dinner alone, or lined up a babysitter (all by yourself) so you could take your wife out for a romantic dinner?

Oh yes, we call those “little things.” A friend will thank us for the card, and we’ll say, “Oh no big deal … it was just a little thing.” Or we’ll thank our partner for the coffee, and she’ll say, “no big deal … only took an extra minute.” They are right. In and of themselves, these little things aren’t a big deal and don’t take a lot of time, money or energy, but the end-result is a tremendous … and a really BIG deal!

“Little things, little things, are much more important than big things. Big things hit you in the face with their bigness and obscure the little, more important things that really define a life and provide it with delicacy.” — Layren Roedy Vaughn

What about you? What “little thing” have you done for someone else lately?

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, SexKids' Issues

Introducing the Kids!

March 25th, 2015 → 5:58 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

My latest for eHarmony … Introducing the Kids!

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when to introduce kids

“The uncertainty of parenting can bring up feelings in us that range from frustration to terror.” — Brene Brown

I had a great conversation with a friend last week. I’m not sure we ever landed on an answer, but it was a worthwhile discussion that I want to share here. I would love to get your feedback and suggestions.

It’s a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” scenario! There may not be an answer, and you can circle yourself around and around the question, and still not know the “right” thing to do. Here’s the deal: my friend (never married, no kids) is dating a guy (divorced, two school aged kids). They get along really well … “opposites attract” would be a great way to describe them. By way of background, they have been dating for nearly a year and have a ton of fun together on his “free” weekends (from his kids).

Here’s the thing. He is hesitant to let her get too close to his children until he “knows this is going to work out for the long-term.” She says, “I have a hard time figuring out if this is going to work out for the long term if I don’t have a chance to get to know his kids and see what it’s like to be their stepmom.” She has met his kids, but he has kept her at an arms length. She wants to do more with his kids and really get to know them.

Do you see the conundrum? He doesn’t want her to become a part of his kids’ lives until he knows she is the one, and how can she know if she is the one until she gets to know all of him – which includes his kids?

All of this begs the question, “When is the right time to introduce your date to your kids?” My belief is that it is somewhere in between. I didn’t introduce my now-husband to my kids until I knew that we had something serious going on. I also knew that we wouldn’t be able to advance to the next level of seriousness until my kids had met him, he had met my kids, and I was comfortable with how they all interacted with each other. I was falling in love with this guy, but I also knew that if he and my kids hated each other that I wasn’t prepared to deal with that drama. That would be a deal-breaker. At the same time, he was falling in love with me. And, he knew that I was a package deal. You get me AND you get two bonus kids. He needed to be able to spend time with my kids to get to know them and confirm that he could be and wanted to be their “bonus” dad in the future.

I was so fortunate that my kids fell in love with him, just as much as he fell in love with them. He has never tried to be their dad. In fact, when he asked me to marry him, he also asked my kids for “permission,” and told them that he knew they had a dad, and he would be thrilled to be their stepdad. But, he wouldn’t have been able to do this if he hadn’t already built a relationship with them, and he wouldn’t have been able to build a relationship with them if I hadn’t given him access to them to start developing a relationship in the first place.

I didn’t grant access right away. I didn’t want my kids to ever just see me dating a revolving door of men every Saturday night (not that I ever did that anyway). I knew that introducing my kids to my now-husband was a big deal. This is why I understand where my friend’s boyfriend is coming from. As parents, we want to protect our kids. We want to protect their innocence and shield them from having to understand the complexities of life — lessons like “mom and dad got divorced, and now mommy (or daddy) is spending time with (and falling in love with) someone else.” These can be tough changes for children to understand, but it’s also real life.

Can you understand my friend’s boyfriend not wanting to introduce his kids to her right away? Can you also understand him wanting to wait until he knows they are in a relationship, and not simply casually dating (remember, they have been dating for a year)? Can you understand my friend’s perspective saying she wants to spend more time with his kids getting to know them better because like it or not, he’s a package deal now? She knows if she continues to fall in love with him, that means loving his kids as well, and she wants to love them. Being a stepmother is a tough job. She wants to get to know them and become a part of their lives – all of their lives.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? When do you introduce your relationship to your kids? When do you introduce your kids to your relationship? At the end of this discussion, here’s what I truly believe: it depends! The answers to those questions are going to completely depend on you, your children, and the person whom you want to introduce or don’t want to introduce quite yet. Everyone is at a different place – in their maturity, in their ability to handle change, and in their emotional readiness. As parents, we must best assess when the timing is right for our kids, and go from there. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t!

“I’m not a parenting expert. In fact, I’m not sure that I even believe in the idea of ‘parenting experts.’ I’m an engaged, imperfect parent and a passionate researcher. I’m an experienced mapmaker and a stumbling traveler. Like many of you, parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure.” — Brene Brown

What do you think?

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Dating, Romance, Sex &Kids' Issues

Dating, Romance, Sex

Are You Dateable?

March 22nd, 2015 → 5:30 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony! Dateable?

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are you dateable

“Are you the person the person you are looking for is looking for?”  – Andy Stanley

If you are dating right now (or want to be dating someone), keep reading.

If you want some big dating ideas to ponder, keep reading.

If you love to laugh, keep reading, then click on the link at the end.

I live in Atlanta and attend Northpoint Community Church. Our lead pastor, Andy Stanley, delivered a message at one of the singles events recently. Andy is a terrific communicator. He is incredibly successful at delivering really good messages using spot-on humor and thought-provoking questions. Here are a few of the nuggets I captured from his talk on dating.

The “Right Person” Myth

Andy began by talking about the “right person” myth which basically says, “When I meet the right person, everything will turn out right.” Clearly this is a myth! Look at the divorce rate. Obviously many of us (roughly 50% of the population if you believe the statistics) are not marrying the “right person” because everything is not turning out right. It’s more about becoming the right person, rather than finding the right person. Think about that. What if we each tried to truly become the right person? What if we each worked on finding ourselves and really worked on becoming our best selves? Would that make finding the “right person” easier? Intriguing, isn’t it!?

Online Dating is a Great Thing

Andy suggested that the whole idea of being able to meet someone via a profile before you really meet him or her is a powerful thing. Assuming they are being honest – with themselves and with you – you are able to get an idea of who they are, what they stand for, and what they value before you even get to meet them. Talk about a head start. There is a huge advantage to that, because … once you meet someone and perhaps start to fall under his or her “spell,” it becomes easier to begin to slip on your own guardrails and boundaries about what is truly important and critical to you. Suddenly you begin to overlook some things that are really important to you, and potentially lower your standards and expectations.

There is No Win in Jumping in!

We have all been in those opening days, weeks, and months of a new relationship where the chemistry is so powerful that you think, “This just has to be right.” The feelings are so powerful that you know you are meant to be together. He has to be “the one.” She has to be a “gift from God.” Romance is a fog, and that’s a great thing. But, as Andy says, the longer you can postpone the physical, the better off you will be. He made a great point: the physical part of relationships is the easy part; it’s the relational side that is so much more difficult. Most of us are ultimately looking for real intimacy with another person. Genuine intimacy requires both a strong physical and a strong relational component. Andy says, “To be fully known – and to know someone else fully – fearlessly. That is intimacy, and it is so powerful.”

Accountable vs. Capable

Andy closes with this: “Wedding vows make you accountable, not capable. When you are accountable for something you aren’t capable of, you are miserable.”  I had to think about that for a few minutes. He’s right. When you pledge your wedding vows to another person, they simply make you accountable (theoretically) to that person and to the promises you are making (you know, that part where you might say something like “in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, for richer or poorer”). But, and it’s a big but, those same vows that make you accountable don’t necessarily make you capable. And, if you aren’t capable of being accountable, then you become miserable … and being miserable in a marriage (or a relationship) is never a good thing.

Those are just a few of the nuggets which stuck with me from this conversation with Andy. Trust me – you should take the time (it’s less than an hour!) and watch the video. It’s comedy with a really good message! Here’s the link.

What about you? Are you the person the person you are looking for is looking for?

 

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, Sex

I Fell in Love at the Wedding!

March 3rd, 2015 → 5:25 pm @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony: Fell In Love!

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love at weddings

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”  ~Mignon McLaughlin

A dear friend got engaged several months ago. We were all so excited for her. She came over one night and we talked about her plans for the wedding. You know, all the normal stuff – where they were going to get married, what her dress looked like, who was going to be the ring bearer. And then, she popped the question – to me!

“Would you and J consider marrying us,” she asked? “YES! Absolutely yes!” I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked to take on such an important role in someone’s life. What an honor! That thought was followed by, “Yikes – are we even equipped to officiate a wedding?!!”

It turns out my husband and I could be equipped to officiate a wedding – in fact, we were ordained quite easily.  It was almost frightening how easy it was. In less than 10 seconds online (seriously), we were ordained to officiate a wedding. We weren’t asked anything about our religious beliefs or our views on the sanctity of marriage. We weren’t even asked to pay anything. Nevertheless, we are now able to perform weddings.

My friend and her fiancé were having a small wedding with just family and a few close friends. They wanted a small, intimate, and personal wedding. The four of us sat down and created a beautiful wedding ceremony. It was steeped in the traditional Christian service of marriage. We built in readings of certain Bible passages by two of his children, and his other daughter played her guitar and sang a beautiful song.  It was meaningful and personal.

Looking back on this beautiful experience, there are three things I learned from officiating their wedding.

It’s intense! I was more nervous performing someone else’s wedding than I was when I got married myself a few years ago. There’s something about wanting to make it absolutely perfect for the bride and groom that makes you pray that you don’t mess up the words! At our wedding (at our home) a few years ago, I wasn’t worried about messing up, and in fact, I loved the little things that weren’t a part of our “plan” like when our yellow lab came over and laid down right next to us during the ceremony. That’s become one of my favorite photos … us standing on our back porch, with my children in front of us, minister and our family and friends surrounding us, and sweet Willow laying at our feet.

It’s inspiring! Having someone repeat after you as you read the wedding vows and the declaration of intent allows you to relive your own vows all over again. We stood in front of our friends, and we asked them, “ … Do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?” As I asked those questions of them, I answered them for myself again some six years after I last said them when we got married. I relived the enormity of those words, the true impact of their meaning, and standing next to my husband, I was able to silently answer, “I will – absolutely” to the declaration of intent. I fell in love with my husband (all over again) at the wedding

It’s intimate! I’m a big fan of sharing special moments, occasions, and activities with your spouse as a way to build intimacy and emotional connection. There is something about jumping out of an airplane together (OK, full disclosure, we’ve never done that) or fixing dinner together that builds that forged connection. It says, “We conquered this – together!” We found co-leading a wedding to be that kind of experience. We had to plan it together, write it together, and execute it together. It was a shared experience that we will treasure forever.

Now what? We had so much fun watching our friends fall in love, and so much fun being such a special part of their wedding day, that we half-jokingly tell other friends that we are happy to marry them, or even to help them renew their vows … and we’re especially fond of destination weddings to warm locales during the winter months!

What about you? Have you fallen in love at someone else’s wedding?  Were you single and did you meet someone and fall in love? Or perhaps, you fell in love with your spouse all over again as you silently renewed your own vows. 

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Dating, Romance, Sex

Dating, Romance, SexTaking Care of Yourself

Rounding the Corner!

February 27th, 2015 → 11:05 am @ // No Comments - Join the conversation!

Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Rounding the Corner!

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moving on

“It will always be okay in the end; if it’s not okay yet, then it’s not the end.”

I had coffee with a friend last week. She told me about her niece who is going through a nasty divorce. Her niece is angry. She’s hurt. She feels as if her life is over and that she will never be happy again. I know that in the moment it definitely does feel that way. It’s easy to think that life is over. It’s easy to wonder if you will ever be happy again. I encouraged my friend to tell her niece that she will “round the corner” and find happiness again in her future. I’ve seen it happen to practically everyone I know who has been through some sort of tumultuous situation. They ultimately “round the corner” and find peace and happiness again.

I love that term. I get a really great visual when I say it. I see someone coming around a very dangerous and scary curve, and then once they round the corner, it’s a straight-away along a beautiful flat paved road heading towards a perfect blue sky. Not sure why, but that’s the visual I see.

I had lunch with two colleagues the other night. As it frequently does when a group of women get together, our conversation turned from simply professional dialogue and friendly niceties, and transitioned to more vulnerable and connecting conversations. One shared how her ex-husband had cheated on her, and now three years later, she was just beginning to re-enter the dating world. She shared how she had been so blind-sided and hurt by his unfaithfulness that it had taken her a while to recover. Then she uttered the words I love to hear. She said, “But … I’ve rounded the corner and I’m so thankful that he did that to me. I am so much happier now than I ever was before.”

The other colleague began to share her story. She had once been engaged. Shortly before the wedding, her fiancé shared that he had cheated on her. They postponed the wedding, and tried to work through it together, but she discovered that he was still cheating on her with the same woman. What?!?! Needless to say, she was devastated, and called off the wedding for good. It took her a while to get her groove back after being hurt so badly. She is now dating again and in a wonderful relationship with a great guy. She said, “I was so angry and ruined emotionally. I never thought I would trust anyone again, but here I am now, happier than ever.” She, too, had “rounded the corner.”

I spent several hours many years ago with a neighbor who had been through a brutal divorce. I ran into her at the grocery story a few weeks ago. We passed each other in one aisle and it was obvious we were both trying to place each other. I love the irony because by the time we literally rounded the corner in the next aisle we both recalled each other. “How are you?” I asked. You guessed it. She said, “I’ve rounded the corner and I’m doing great. Life is really good and I’m so happy being independent.”

Rounding the corner doesn’t just apply to surviving divorce. It applies to any challenge that life presents to us. For many of us, not getting into the college of our dreams, or surviving the loss of a job, or dealing with the death of a parent or a dear friend may throw us for a loop. We may wonder if we are ever going to get our groove back. I read in my devotion this morning that faith is blind trust that everything will be okay again. That’s a great description. We all need to believe that and have faith that we will eventually round the corner, and when that happens, we will look back on whatever lessons life threw at us, and be able to learn from them, grow from them, and move on from them.

For some people, rounding the corner just comes with the passage of time. For others, it comes from talking with a therapist, a minister, or a good friend. For others, it comes through intense self-reflection, and a desire to look towards a new horizon in the future as opposed to being stuck treading water and being sucked backwards.

There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” ~ Ellen Goodman

What about you? What unwanted and unwelcome lesson did life throw at you? Have you rounded the corner yet?

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Dating, Romance, Sex &Taking Care of Yourself